Recently, we sang the patriotic hymn “God Bless Our Native Land” during one of our worship services. The congregational singing was lively and loud indicating that we really do want God to bless our native land. I believe we do but I not sure we always understand why it’s important to seek God’s blessing. It is God’s blessing alone that allows this nation to remain the land of the free and the brave—a place where we can worship freely.
For most of us, this is our native land and we’re proud to be Americans. We were born here and so were our parents and our grandparents and maybe even their parents and grandparents. But, are we really thankful for our “native land?” As we head toward another festive holiday season, have we counted our blessings or have we taken them for granted? Recents events have cause many Americans to re-evaluate their lives and their faith. Our churches are fuller than ever before. I hope they remain so!
As Christmas Day approaches I pray that many will pause to give thanks to God for the religious freedoms we enjoy in the United States. Our family did so this past week during our Thanksgiving meal. I can’t imagine sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal without first giving thanks to God in worship and praise. Christ sacrificed so much at the Cross to win our religious freedom. The Pilgrims and Patriots sacrificed so much of their lives to insure our religious freedom. May we never take our freedom for granted.
Prior to September 11th, 2001 some seem to take our religious freedom for granted. Many had forgotten to be thankful for our faith and freedom. Do we need a reminder of how much we really have to be thankful for in our lives?
A few years ago prior to Thanksgiving Day, I attended a meeting of the Sons of the American Revolution. It’s a patriotic group made up of those of us whose forefathers actually fought in the American Revolution. Mine did! At that meeting, one of our members presented a brief history of the "faith of our fathers." He read a letter from one of his ancestors who was a Pilgrim and he himself belongs to the Society of Pilgrims.
This member of the Sons of the American Revolution is named after Charles Allerton, a Pilgrim, who actually sailed on the May Flower and survived that first bitter winter in New England. Only 102 survived the trip across the north Atlantic and only 50 of them survived the first winter! His ancestor survived and wrote a letter describing that first Thanksgiving meal. It made me ashamed to thank of how much thanks they gave for so little and how little thanks we give for so much.
I pray this holiday season that we may all take time to be thankful throughout the Christmas season. We do have so very much to be thankful for here in the United States. Through us the “faith of our fathers” will live on to another generation. Throughout the history of our nation the Pilgrims and the Patriots sought God’s blessing on our nation by worshiping together at every opportunity. I pray that we may do the same and that we may always remember to be thankful—thankful for Christ, thankful for America, and thankful for freedom.
On a personal note, let me extend holiday greetings to each of you from Linda and myself. We wish you a most joyous and blessed season. We consider it a rare and wonderful privilege to celebrate Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and New Years with you once again. We pray that the peace of Christ may dwell in you richly during the coming year and that the freedom of the gospel may remain in your hearts always.