Monday, November 1, 2010

Thank God for America the Beautiful

Thank God for America the Beautiful
By Brenda Black

By the time this column is published, we will be enjoying a few dozen less robo-calls per day. We'll be free of the onslaught of blaring political TV and radio ads. The campaign trail once dotted with red, white and blue yard signs will give way to beige patches of dying turf. And the lonely, quiet and bland milieu will be welcome...just in time for the hectic holiday commercials to replace political barking with screams to “Buy, Buy, Buy!”

My, my, my! Why? Why? Why? I'm ready for some silence and some sanity and some sensitivity. How about you? A little Thanksgiving before the hyper-holiday lime green and glaring red banners go up would be a nice change of pace. A wiener roast over a warm, glowing fire near the pond bank on a cool November evening sounds like paradise. A stroll through the changing timber or a roll in a pile of raked leaves seems like a great escape from the pushy commercials and shallow slogans that pitch piles of stuff we don't even need.

November should be a time to treasure the beauty of the greatest country on earth and remember how blessed we are to call this nation home. A majority of Americans will know the first verse of the 1913 patriotic classic, America the Beautiful, by Katherine Lee Bates. It highlights spacious skies, amber waves of grain and majestic, purple mountains. Many will recall words about pilgrim's feet and liberty in the second stanza. My guess is the familiarity weakens by verse three when Bates proclaims heroic acts of men “who more than self their country loved” and challenges all patriots to see the only success worth having be filled with nobleness divinity! God's grace and man's brotherhood bears witness in repeated refrains to the unity it took to form one nation under God. And verse four promises heaven past the high price of sacrifice ventured for freedom here on earth.

But do you know verse seven? “O beautiful for glory-tale, Of liberating strife, When once and twice, for man's avail, Men lavished precious life! America! America! God shed his grace on thee,Till selfish gain no longer stain, The banner of the free!”

Selfish gain has left it's stain on freedom. People rant ugly, hateful things at a young soldier's funeral for their own moment of shameful fame. Elected officials have lost face and sacrificed trust to pursue their own selfish gain rather than be a true civil servant. Credit card companies selfishly offer plastic money to people who can't afford to pay the bill, all the while heaping unending, outrageous interest rates. Crime and cruelty are culprits of selfishness. And the list goes on of ways one person's freedom infringes on the rights of another, as long as that person practices no moral conscience.

Paul said it well in 1 Corinthians 6:12 - “'Everything is permissible for me' - but not everything is beneficial.” In a country built on sacrifice and nobility, we malign the very freedoms fought for when we forget that our freedom is not license for indecency.

The elections are over. The outcome history. It's time to get our American act together and cease disgracing the blood it took to give us such opportunity to speak our minds, whether in ignorance or knowledge; to cast our vote the same. November is a time to remember – veterans and pilgrims and
God's role in our nation's history and in the blessings we know as families.

Before you go mad over the election outcome or get busy hitting the stores and get swept up in the Christmas chaos, I challenge you to stop as often as you can in this eleventh hour of the year and give thanks. Quite possibly, if we were truly thankful, we wouldn't be so miserable, hateful, divided, incited or narrow minded in this amazing country. We'd be grateful to be American. And we'd stop and count our blessings this November instead of disregard them.

Whether you acknowledge it or not, does not change the historical relevance of God's divine intervention for this nation. In case you wonder what it will take to insure a similar future glory, let me leave you with the closing lines of verse eight of America the Beautiful: “America! America! God shed his grace on thee, Till nobler men keep once again, Thy whiter jubilee!” Remember in November that it's God's grace which washes our sins so we're whiter than snow and His grace alone sets us free.

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