One Lord


The Sunday nearest Independence Day has, on occasion, provoked a question from some folks in my congregation, “Why didn’t we sing any patriotic songs this morning?”

These folks mean well. They recognize that the story of the United States is a part of our shared story and, when the country is taking time to celebrate that story they want to participate in a space which has meaning for them.

My answer is always the same, “Because there’s only one Lord here 1.” It’s same reason I won’t allow national symbols in the sanctuary 2.

Actions we take in worship matter. And bringing in another allegiance to Christian worship, effectively merging loyalty to Christ’s Kingdom with a love of country, is terrible theology. Well-meaning or not, syncretism isn’t something I want to encourage.

In worship, there can be only one Lord. And Jesus’ emblem is not the power of the Stars and Stripes, it’s the humility of a Roman cross.

  1. And, really, everywhere. I have serious issues participating in civil religion. 
  2. We do have one window, outside the sanctuary, which has a patriotic motif. If what I’ve been told is correct, it honors the name of the only member of the congregation who died during World War I. I try not to look at it.