Thursday, May 03, 2007

national prayer day and nationalism

I venture to speak of that of which I little know, though that's more or less true all the time anyhow. But today in my country, the United States, there is a national day of prayer. It is a time when citizens and others here gather to pray to God for our country. It is inclusive in that people of all faiths participate. Of course it takes on different colors according to each participating group.

I wonder what is the truly Christian and Jesus way to participate in this. Would it be to withdraw and pray the Lord's prayer along with making it (or another day) an international prayer day, including all nations? Such a day would not be a bad idea.

I have taken a Christian pacifist stance on war and there are Christians who would respectfully (and very well possibly praying at the same time, with thanksgiving for this country) would abstain from saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

My position at this time is to participate in this day. At my workplace, RBC Ministries, we participate in it every year. For any who would in Christian conscience want to participate in a different way, or abstain, I'm sure this would not be a problem there, as long as this is considered within the parameters of Christian faith (and it would be, say, if some Mennonite would participate differently).

Nationalism strictly speaking is something I really don't want to countenance, support or be a part of. We in Jesus are "a holy nation" consisting of all ("Jews and Gentiles") who put their trust in Jesus as Messiah and Lord over all. And we are from every tribe, people and nation- ultimately, on the earth, scattered everywhere. So our allegiance and loyalty is to God; Jesus is Lord, not any other nation or ruler. I know this alone does not answer the issues on which Christians disagree. It is good to keep working on such issues and at times we'll have to, in love agree to disagree, of course.

As salt and light in Jesus, we should be good citizens wherever we live. We should bring God's light in Jesus to bear on issues and problems that concern our nation (if we can, which we can here; others can find this much more difficult), reflecting that light in our lives and good works to those around us. This can involve participation in politics in a way that would bring in something of the kingdom of God, something of the new creation- in Jesus.

Whatever you decide or have decided about this day, for you who live in this nation, let's be sure to lift up a prayer for God's mercy on us along with repeating together the prayer the Lord taught us to pray.

What would you add to this? Or what's your perspective and thoughts on it?


Ted Gossard said...

We just had a very good time of prayer, praying for our state, our nation and the world. It was good to be there and participate in it as we prayed in our hearts while others led us.

John Frye said...

I am almost finished reading Greg Boyd's *The Myth of a Christian Nation.* I feel some of the tension in your post. Of course it is biblical to pray for our leaders and the nations of the world. But some want "to take America back for God" America has never belonged to God in the first place. The myth is maintained by those in power. It's not the myth of African-Amercians or Native Americans.

L.L. Barkat said...

It is kind of an odd practice, isn't it? Especially in a country that has separation of church and state.

Still, it's nice to think of all those prayers, rising to heaven.

Ted Gossard said...

John, Thanks so much for your comment. Did you catch Greg Boyd at Mars Hill? I just heard he was there, recently. I ought to download him.

Yes, this is a hard subject. So much emotion on both sides and rightfully so. Though the emotion that must prevail, or more accurately the act, is love for each other.

But nationalism can be deadly as we saw in Germany last century.

And your thought on African-Americans and Native Americans is well taken.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Yes. Though it does mirror the dependence the founders of this nation did express towards God.

I try to look at what they and our nation's founding was all about fairly.

But then I try to look at what we're called to be in Jesus fairly as well.

And the two are different, though we as God's people in Christ are salt and light everywhere.

Ted Gossard said...

Oh, and yes, L.L., you're so right about the blessing of prayer. It was great to be a part of that, today.


andy said...

over here in australia we had our Prime Minister call Christians to prayer for the drought that is currently crippling farmers...
our local Baptist Ethics think Tank put out a good set of thoughts on what our response should be to this...

interesting read over at my blog...

Ted Gossard said...

Andy, Yes that is. A few things to unravel there, though I thought the Baptist leader seemed to me to do well in his response which seemed balanced.

I think God may direct his people in different ways at different times of crisis. We need to see this as an opportunity to make kingdom of God inroads and advancement of the new creation project in Jesus, and those things in different ways, as God leads his people and churches.

Prayer of God's people done in faith is always powerful in God, but not always the same in answer, though with the same redemptive goal for people and even for the impact of culture, I believe.

Thanks for your thoughts and sharing this with us here.