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Autumn Foliage

God's Blessing This Land

I was recently with some church leaders as we were planning a gathering for the fourth of July. We considered scriptures, prayers, liturgy and such as we put things into place. While we were looking over possible songs and hymns to sing I was caught again by a thought I’ve had since my high school days: Maybe the song “ God Bless America” should have a sequel or an addendum or something titled, “God, Continue to Bless America”.

We are so fortunate to live in a country of such abundance. God has been blessing this land since long before it was “America” – and continues to do so. Maybe the sequel should be titled, “God, Thank You for All Your Past Blessings and for Continuing to Bless America”. (But that starts to become a rather lengthy title!) Speaking of songs, a Sunday School song from long ago says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one...” Truly, to do so is to discover that our blessings are as numerous as grains of sand on the beach or the number of stars in the sky.

Two thoughts from faith and scripture begin to turn in my heart and head as I consider the truth of God’s grace and blessings.

1) Jesus says, “To whom much is given much will be required”. (Luke 12:48). I understand this on the personal level; God has given me much, so what is being required of me to extend resource and abundance to others? On the Christian Church level; God has given the church so much (both as a local congregation and as a worldwide movement), so what is God requiring of the church to share so that others may know of God’s goodness, God’s abundance, God’s gifts of resource and sustenance . And on a national level: What is God requiring of America (whom God given such abundance and resource), so it may be a “city on a hill”.

2) If that is the scriptural thought/quote that comes to mind, the thought of my faith is from the saying, “We are blessed to be a blessing”. In the same way, I think we are forced to consider the ramifications of such a statement of faith. On the personal level; God has greatly blessed me, so how am I living in grace in such a way as to be a blessing to others? On the Christian Church level; God has greatly blessed the Church (again, both as a local congregation and as a worldwide movement), so how are we as a congregation and the Church in the world blessing this world that God so loves. And on a national level: How is America blessing or being a blessing to the world?

I often think about our service men and women around the world (and their families); their commitment, their courage, their sacrifice. I am humbled and awed. “Thank you” to each and all of you. I have the deep privilege of being an “on call” clergy for Fort Snelling National Cemetery. It is a sacred place, and I am again humbled and privileged to stand with these families as we honor their loved ones. I’ve had the pro- found experience of walking the allied cemeteries above the Normandy beaches.

On this 4th of July, amidst the festivities and fun, I hope we each and all stop for a moment and think of God’s blessings – and what the ramifications are for us to be so blessed! Also, may we thank the service people around us and humbly appreciate the innumerable men and women who have given the last full measure.

Be God’s, Pastor Jim

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