I hate going to church on the 4th of July.
One year, a pastor linked Paul's idea of freedom in Christ from Galatians with religious pluralism, claiming that all religions are really the same and that Jesus freed us up to worship however we like. I think that was when my hatred of 4th of July church started.
The next year, we sang "God Bless America" while a 60 foot American flag rose on the altar (actually covering the cross). Something felt wrong.
Almost every year, former and current military are asked to stand, sometimes called out branch by branch. America's soldiers, we're told, are actually fighting to make Sunday morning church possible. That's what all our wars have been about, we're told. But I don't buy that. Not anymore.
We need clearer conversation about the meaning of freedom. We need a heart-check around the idolatrous edge of patriotism. We need to think deeply about what it means if we find ourselves as Christians and Americans.
I hate going to church on the 4th of July, I think, because it stirs up all of these questions to which I don't have answers. What is freedom? What does healthy patriotism look like? What does it mean to be both a Christian and an American?
These are questions to be pounded out in community. A good Small Group would really help, I think. Courageous Small Group leaders, yeah, that would help too.
I'd love to love going to church on the 4th of July. Maybe next year?