After another Fourth-of-July-weekend service including "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America", I am pondering the same issue I ponder every July: How, in corporate worship, can we express gratitude to God for the advantages and blessings we enjoy in the United States, and ask for God's blessing and guidance for our country and its leaders, without all the bombastic, non reflective flag waving?
I always dread the Fourth of July service because, at least where I live, it's hard to avoid the impression that not only is there no separation of church and state, but in addition, "state" is essentially synonymous with "the Republican party." I squirm when the Boy Scouts, much less a military honor guard, "troop the colors" into the church. (That didn't happen in the church we attend now, but it's de rigeur in some. The Scientist and I share a particularly appalling memory of watching ARMED GUARDS escort the flag up the aisle in one of our previous churches.)
Does a nation's flag really belong in a Christian church, anyway? If so, why?
Is it just me? Is it just that I live in one of the reddest counties of this (mostly red) state? Is my inner Mennonite coming out? I would really like some ideas about other ways of observing the Fourth of July in the church.