No one I know would ever describe me as overly patriotic. Now that doesn't mean I don't love the freedom I enjoy, nor does it mean that I believe that freedom is "free." However, I've never been one to decorate my house for the 4th of July or Memorial Day, and I don't listen to Sousa marches on a regular basis. This weekend my thoughts on patriotism were challenged and inspired.
Our church presented a special patriotic service yesterday morning. The choir, of which I am a part, has been practicing the music for what seems like months now. And I must admit, "Armed Services Medley" has never been one of my favorites. One night in choir I asked myself what this song had to do with worship even. The Lord quickly reminded me that everything is not always about me. Through a great post at Notes from the Soul (see my sidebar for the link), the Lord reminded me to submit to the authority He's placed above me and to make sure I have a contrite heart in worship...not a boastful one.
As the choir sang and the orchestra played the "Armed Services Medley" our pastor invited anyone who had served in any branch of the military to come to the stage and stand beside the flag of that branch. What an overwhelming sight that was. Tears came to my eyes immediately as I saw the flood of men and women approaching the stage. During the 9:30 service it was "standing room only" on that stage. At the later service it was crowded still. As those brave men and women proudly stood beside the flags of their comrades, I realized how important this service was to them. I realized that the Lord had put this together to honor and bless those men and women. And I was once again reminded that freedom IS NOT FREE.
Our Sr. Pastor and our Worship Pastor did a great job of planning a service that focused our attention on our Heavenly Father and the freedom we may all experience at Christ's expense, as well as the freedoms we enjoy in this country. And though there are disagreements and arguments in some circles as to whether or not our Founding Fathers were really Christians, those who have fought over the centuries to preserve our nation have done so to protect our freedom to exercise our Faith openly. For that I am eternally grateful.
In pondering my personal freedom I was reminded of the fifth chapter of Galatians:
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." (Gal. 5:1, NASB)
"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." (Gal. 5:13, NASB)
Freedom is another of life's paradoxes really...it involves enjoying ALL that God has to the fullest, for the sake of being free, and it involves sacrificial service to others....That is the life of freedom I wish to live.