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“Living As A Patriot”

September 11, 2016

A Service of Thanks and Remembrance

“Living As A Patriot”

Philippians 3:17-21

 

Children’s Sermon:  Flags. 

How many of you know the “Pledge of Allegiance”?  What does it mean if you say it?  What’s a “pledge”? What’s “allegiance”?

 

So when we say the pledge to the American Flag, we are promising that we will be a faithful American citizen – we will abide by the rules of our country and we will honor the American authorities and we will participate in celebrating American holidays and when we are old enough, we will participate in elections and maybe even serve in some form of government.

 

What about this other flag?  Do you know what it’s about?

It has a pledge too.  Before I lead you through it, can you guess what it might promise to be faithful to?

 

"I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe."

 

Let’s lead the congregation in the pledge to both of these symbols of freedom.

 

Intro: This is Patriot Day. A day of remembrance commemorating a heart wrenching event in our history, 15 years ago today.  I’m not sure why, but this year it is an emotion packed anniversary of the event for me.  So what is a Patriot?  According to dictionary.com:

1.a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

2.a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.

Do you consider yourself a Patriot of America?

 

It’s not always easy to be a faithful patriot.  Wars, election campaigns, local government not doing as we wish, personalities, conflict over any part of the Constitution.  These things cause us to struggle with our patriotism from time to time.  And we are becoming lazy about showing our patriotism.  In the past 8 years, I’ve attended a lot of hometown parades.  I’ve seen the fire company at almost every one of them and have noticed I they are missing.  It has been sad to watch how much coaching is needed to get people to stand when the colors are presented at the start of the parade.

 

And the National Anthem is in the news lately.  With athletes choosing not to stand.  And the hub-bub among my FB community is about the loss of Americans singing our national anthem.  We leave it to some celebrity who makes a show out of it rather than taking pride in singing it ourselves from the stands. 

 

My young friend, Greg Boatman can sing the Chile national anthem after attending one soccer game, because it was sung over and over again by the fans as the team played in the South American Cup.  (They won that night)

 

Because we are citizens of this nation, we are born to be patriots.  We are Americans.

 

But if we are Christians, we have dual citizenship.  Let’s shift our attention to the Christian flag and its pledge: 

"I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe."

In Christ, we are part of the Kingdom of God, and our citizenship and patriotism go beyond this country and this world to a kingdom that we cannot see on a map but which we are an active part of here and now and more fully in the future.

 

The Apostle Paul had a good understanding of what it means to be part of God’s kingdom.  In the passage we are about to read from his letter to the Philippians, he contrasts patriotism for God’s kingdom versus what anti-patriotism looks like.  See if you can catch each of them.

 

Paul begins by putting himself forth as an example of a kingdom-patriot.

 

Philippians 3:17-21

 

The key to claiming our citizenship as Christians is our mindset.  A kingdom citizen has their mind set on kingdom things.  In contrast, someone who is a citizen only of this world, has their mind set on earthly things.  Our patriotism is marked by our thoughts.  Our thoughts become our actions.  Our actions are what the world sees.  Does the world you live in know that you are a citizen of heaven?  Can they tell by what they see?

 

On this day of remembrance, some folks mark an anniversary.  This is the day, after the horrors of terrorism, that they began to seek God and His Kingdom.  Seeking comfort and answers, people came to the church.  There, some discovered God’s kingdom people and decided that they wanted to be a part of that faith community.  Others took shelter for the moment and then went back to their life.  At the same time, in moments of terror, the people of the kingdom can have a rush of “patriotism” but then resume life as normal quickly after, not caring about what the King cares about, being earthly minded.

 

Concl.  So where are you at?  Where does your patriotism lie? Each person here is invited to be part of the kingdom of God.  it requires one thing – a surrender to the King, Jesus Christ.  He will take anyone who will sincerely claim him as Lord and live into that relationship.

 

So today, I invite you to reclaim your citizenship.  Let’s stand once more and pledge our allegiance to God’s Kingdom and the King, Jesus Christ.

"I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe."

 

A Litany of Thanks for First Responders

by The Rev. Dr. Karen A. Monk

 

You saw the need in your community.  You looked in the mirror and said, “I can’t do everything, but I can do something.”

You are a blessing, and we thank God for you.

You signed up for training.  You studied countless hours; you sweated through exams and waited for the results.  You showed up for drills, when you might have spent the evening or the Saturday with friends.

You are a blessing, and we thank God for you.

You got the pager and the uniform.  You took on the responsibility to respond when your neighbors, your friends, or even a stranger passing through needed someone to help. 

You are a blessing, and we thank God for you.

The pager went off during dinner; it went off during the big game; it went off when you finally fell asleep at the end of a long day. 

You grabbed your gear, and went to the building, to the scene.  You set aside your comfort and your plans, that someone else might have life, or hope, or comfort. 

You are a blessing, and we thank God for you.

Then came the tough call.  Too young.  The long-time neighbor.  The unimaginable scene.  You gave your best.  Then you went home, and hugged your loved ones, and prayed for those who had lost so much. You wondered if you’d done enough.

You are a blessing, and we thank God for you.

We give thanks to God for you. 

You exemplify for us, and for the next generation, the values of courage and service and commitment. 

You do not seek or wish our recognition, but today we say THANK YOU for all you do, quietly, faithfully, each day to make our community stronger. 

You are a blessing, and we thank God for you.