God Bless Us? Or Us Bless God?

In The Journey on July 23, 2011 by scottsund

Sunday was a fun day to be back in Seattle.  The kids and I drove down from Canada early Saturday and travelled 12 hours down Vancouver Island, across on a ferry, and the last few hours until we got back to Seattle.  It was a fun journey marked only by the breaking of an Ipad when one child decided to throw the Ipad at another child.  But that is another blog entry all together.  J

I digress.  We got home late Saturday and I was back at Bethany North on Sunday morning.  After a few weeks it was so great to be back with my peeps at BCC North.  It was like oxygen to a person needing a breath…just being back at church and worshipping and connecting and seeing people again was just amazing.  After church Kincaid and Harper and I (Mama and Avery had a birthday party in Seattle) shot down to the Sounder train station in Edmonds and hopped aboard for a day at Safeco Field.  The Mariners were playing the Rangers, which is about as unfair a fight as David vs. Goliath except Seattle isn’t chosen or called by God, so we knew the game wouldn’t be great.  But it was more about spending time with my kids and we had a fabulous time.

As we entered the stadium the game was getting ready to start and excitement was thick.  The Sunday afternoon crowd was thick and boisterous and it was an exciting atmosphere.  The announcer mentioned the coming national anthem but we continued walking around the exterior of the stadium hoping to get to our seats as quick as possible.

And then the organ played.  The National anthem.  And things almost immediately stopped.  The 30-some thousand fans all previously scurrying here and there all stayed perfectly clear.  I turned to my son, “take your hat off.”
“Why papa?” said his innocent voice.
“Because this is what we do to show respect to our country and those who have fought for it.”
The focus and attention to the anthem was encouraging to see as people generally seemed excited to sign it and celebrate the beginning of the game.  Later, the same singer came out to sing God Bless America.  At the end he yelled out “God bless America!”  And as I looked around at the 30,000 other fans, I thought, “isn’t this strange?”  Here we live in one of the most non-Christian places in the US, and yet we invoke the tradition of God Bless America.  Just like singing “Take me out to the ballpark” (which was the follow up song to God bless America”) do the words “God Bless America” still work?  Isn’t it a bit of a weird concept at a baseball game, at a decidedly pre-Christian city like Seattle, to tell God “Bless us!”  Bless the Mariners (and they need LOTS of blessing right now) and more importantly, BLESS ME!  This is a really AMERICANIZED version to pray to God.  What would it look like to pray, “JESUS, we want to bless YOU!”  Teach us Lord to bless you and be your faithful servants.

I am so thankful we live in a country where people still pray to God and ask for God’s pretection and favor.  But sometimes I worry when I look around and see our relationship with God becoming something relegated to the 7th inning stretch or a tradition we use to start baseball games.  Our faith in God has to be alive in us, making a difference in our own lives and enabling us to serve the world around us, to reclaim the faith as one that has power and relevance.  Let’s keep signing the anthem and God Bless America, but lets also be about living lives of distinction that show God’s Kingdom here on earth.  Because just like the Mariners, we all need a lot of help.


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