Yesterday was September 11th. Of course, you know that unless you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a calendar. And, unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last 10 years,you know the significance of that date. According to all the media dorks, this particular 9-11 was special because it’s the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on the United States in history. I’m not sure why 10 is such a significant number; when someone turns 10, no one outside the child’s family makes a big deal. And, the tradition gift for a couple’s 10th wedding anniversary is tin or aluminum (although the modern list says the 10th is diamond, but I think we know who came up with that), while the 50th is gold. But, because yesterday was the 10th anniversary, there were commemorations everywhere. From the dedication of the Ground Zero memorial to concerts in the park to church services, everybody was “remembering”. In some places, it was quiet, somber and reserved. In others, it was loud and boisterous with confetti cannons, patriotic music and waving flags. Which is fine, as long as you aren’t in church.
I’ve said this before, but I feel the need to say it again, nationalist symbols, songs and rhetoric have no place in the Christian faith. Here are a few reasons why
- These things symbolize one specific country or group, setting it apart from all others. They’re a way of saying “This is who we are. We’re different from you.” Christianity, however, should be saying (notice I say should be) “This is who we all are. We’re just like you.” Waving such a divisive symbol during a time set aside to worship someone whose earthly life was about inclusion makes no sense at all.
- There’s the idolatry aspect to all this. It’s my humble opinion that nothing should occur during a worship service that in any way detracts from why we’re there: worshipping God. Flags, songs like “God Bless America” and fiery patriotic speech do just that.
- The things that have been done in the name of these symbols in the past drives a wedge between them and the practice of Christian faith. Jesus said not just don’t kill anyone, but don’t let anger fester between you and someone else. Yet, in “defense” of our country, as many as a million people have died and all under the Red, White and Blue.
Instead of waving the flag, we should point to the cross. Instead of belting out “God Bless America”, we should hum “God Bless Everyone”. Instead of shouting patriotic words, we should whisper the Gospel. And, we should always remember it’s not about America, it’s about the world.