Walking our Faith: One Nation Under God — don’t wait for the leaders (column)
November 11, 2016
On Monday evening, I attended the Salute to Veterans concert performed by the Summit County Orchestra and Band.
As Jeff Williams introduced the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" composed in 1861, he reminded us that its inspiration came as our country fought to decide whether we would remain one nation.
Today, after a long and hard-fought election, we again feel like a nation divided.
We are separated not only by party affiliation, but by complex disparities of gender, race, education, income, and yes, religion.
People of good faith on the right said their candidate must win to protect the unborn. While people of good faith on the left said their candidate must win to protect the poor. And some people of good faith say both need our help.
Often, these people of very good faith and love, share the same pew at church. Perhaps if they would listen to one another, in good faith, they would discover solutions to help both the unborn and the poor. And so much more.
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America has always been an imperfect union because we were woven together by free men and slaves, indentured servants who had no choice in coming here and immigrants who risked their lives to land on our shores.
What has kept all of us here is the freedom and opportunity we discovered. Our differences weave us into cloth that is stronger because of our many threads. We are Joseph's Coat of Many Colors.
On the day after the election, the 'forgotten men and women' of our country celebrated at finally getting their frustrations heard. While others were suddenly fearful that their recent legal advances would be stripped away.
Both sides share a burning desire to have their concerns addressed. But must one group 'win' at the expense of the other? If anger and fear divide us, we cannot work together to 'form a more perfect union.'
In a poignant moment during the concert, Lt. Col. (Ret) Beth Steele, director of the Summit Community Orchestra and Band asked people to stand if they had served in our military. Throughout the stage and audience, men and women stood, representing World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
No one asked who they voted for.
Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are that we love God with all our hearts, and that we love our neighbor as ourselves.
Our country is great because, despite our differences, we have woven the spirit of these commandments into our Constitution and our culture.
When we love God we acknowledge our humanity, our need to not only honor God and seek his wisdom, but with humility, strive to become a more just nation.
When we love our neighbor as ourselves, we embrace that we are all God's children, no matter where we were born, the color of our skin, whom we love, or the faith we cherish.
When we accept God's love for us, we discover that love is limitless, it is forgiving and it asks nothing in return.
When we allow ourselves to listen to the person holding a view opposite ours, we take the first step toward win-win solutions.
Since the election, there has been a lot of talk about what will be lost as the other side reverses gains from the previous administration.
But maybe it's not about the guys at the top. Maybe it's about each one of us.
Rather than allow fear to turn us against one other, let's each adopt the cause that is dearest, and volunteer our time and talent to be the change we want to see. If we each work on a corner that captures our heart, pretty soon the entire world will be better.
Let's embrace the advice of Saint Teresa of Calcutta: "Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person."
Our country is great because, for all our differences, we share a common love of freedom. God's love is our unlimited resource. Combine these two, and we move forward as one nation under God, indivisible and with liberty for all.
The last song played at the Veterans concert was sung with one heartfelt voice:
"God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home"
Reading the Psalms Week of Eight of Nine: A prayer for our nation…
Psalm 33:12-22 New International Version (NIV)
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven, the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth —
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength, it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him, our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
Suzanne Anderson is the author of "Love in a Time of War" and other books. You can reach her at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com or facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths
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