Years ago, a church worship leader was preparing to introduce the morning’s affirmation or creed, which I had selected to be “A Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada.” The leader turned to me and in a voice that could clearly be heard throughout the sanctuary boomed, “Canada! Why are we reading this here?” I’d like to say I gave an articulate and eloquent response, but being flustered, I think I muttered something like, “because it’s in our hymnal.”
But why is it in our hymnal? That “Canadian” affirmation just happens to be my favorite, but it gets rotated among many other creeds. I like this particular affirmation because of its sense of community (”In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone.”). I treasure the affirmation for its sense of discipleship in doing as well as believing (”We are called to be the church: to celebrate God’s presence, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.”).
Are Americans on the whole able to see Jesus apart from nationality? Has “godandcountry” become one word? Do we truly believe, as a “Statement of Faith of the Korean Methodist Church” provides that we believe in the one God who is the “Father of all nations”?
Although there are a lot of very faithful people who supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, one downside of American developments may be an increasingly civil religion in which our faith is proved by our patriotic zeal as opposed to being an unmerited gift from God that is tested constantly by our reluctance to take up the cross.
Consider the first verse of the hymn “This Is My Song.”
“This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.”
Lloyd Stone, 1934.
I proclaim a risen Savior who is in the world but not of it.