Because I am a good Presbyterian, I am on a committee. :)
Had a worship committee meeting this afternoon, and I loved the thoughtful discussion we had there. I won't transcribe the whole thing, but I wanted to post a few thoughts, because the conversation was so good.
We were discussing worship in relationship to Memorial Day, which just happened, and Independence Day, which is coming up (and happens to be on a Sunday this year).
- We have a multi-generational church. And therefore, multiple very different perspectives on the relationship between patriotism and worship.
- The WWII generation seems to have a sense of reverence for God and a sense of reverence for our country that exist very comfortably together.
- My generation, on the other hand, is largely perplexed at the thought of worship and patriotism living in the same space.
- Many in my generation feel that religion (evangelical Christianity in particular) has been hijacked and is now being used as a political tool. To the degree that this is true, it is genuinely offensive. And it makes patriotism in church feel offensive too.
- Unfortunately, the fact that we're offended makes us resistant to thinking about what Scripture says about country. And it does say something. Many somethings. About the role of the State. And our role as citizens--dual citizens of both an earthly country and a heavenly country.
- All of this is complicated by the fact that we're in a military town. How do we honor young soldiers, many of whom have done multiple long tours during the current Middle East conflict (a responsibility that we have not asked of any previous generation of soldiers)? What do we make of the fact that many of them are highly trained to do their job as soldiers, but not at all equipped to put their wartime experience in any kind of spiritual context? (A pastor friend of mine was asked by a soldier if God could still accept him because he had killed someone in combat.) How do we do all of this thinking about God and country while also tangibly loving the soldiers and airmen in our town?
We didn't reach any conclusions, but we wondered together how we can start a conversation between generations about this. I love that this is happening in our congregation! Would also love to hear your thoughts on the subject.