What Makes America Great
July 4, 2010
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Psalm 33: 12
12Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord
Our topic and our title today is: What Makes America Great
There is a beautiful scripture that says: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Today is the Fourth of July. We are celebrating today. This is a great day to give thanks to God for this great nation of ours. This wonderful land, so dearly fought for, so cherished, so expensively won, this great gift we call America. I hope that you will all be celebrating somehow today, perhaps with loved ones at home or perhaps you will be going out to a party; or maybe fireworks later tonight.
Whatever you do, I would like us to think about what it is about this great land and what makes it so great. What is so great about America? When I think of America, I think of ďone nation under God.Ē Doesnít your heart rise with pride when you say that part of the Pledge of Allegiance? But what does this phrase mean?
Also, all our coins say, ďIn God we trust.Ē All our coins invoke the name of the Lord.
The Constitution itself says we are ďendowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.Ē America points to God! It always has. From its very founding, religious principles were at its root. (And be sure, before you leave church today, to go and take a look at the brand new display sign that Sue Fanok has arranged for us at the end of the hall. It is absolutely wonderful! The quotes from the Founders of our Country about the religious roots of America are worth stopping by to read. Please do-it is a beautiful work that Sue did for us.)
Anyway, what is it that makes America great? It is one nation under God. Its very foundations are rooted in the Lord. But how so? How is it one nation under God? What does it mean when we say, in God we trust?
Is it that we have one form of religion in America? Well, you know that that is not so. Take a look at any Main Street in any downtown. We have many different houses of worship, donít we? America speaks a plural language when it comes to statements of religion. So what is it that makes us one nation under God? Friend, I believe what it is, is that America is based on the Principles of God. One of the greatest Principles of God, and that America is based on, is Peace.
When I think of America and when I think of what I love about it, it is that America is the defender of Peace. That is what is great about America. I believe that America has peace at its heart. America is the great defender of peace in the world. And that quality is of God.
I picture America as a statue of a beautiful woman with hair tied back, wearing one of the Greek flowing gowns. In one hand she holds a shield, and in the other she holds an olive branch of peace. The olive branch is the symbol of peace. Her job is to defend the olive branch of peace. Sometimes this takes us into conflict. But the job of America is to be the defender of the God-given gift of peace.
When you see a soldier, a man or a woman in uniform, I know you'll give them great respect. These are defenders of peace. They represent America, making sure that the borders of peace are secure, so that America can be the defender of peace that she is. That is what I love about America - and that is what I believe is great about America.
What happens when America is the defender of peace? First of all, peace can flourish in the world and in our land. I went to see a parade the other day, a marvelous parade. There were all different kinds of groups of people in this parade. There were very young children marching with hats on, with red white and blue ribbons. There were Veterans of the Second World War also marching in the parade. There were those dressed up as Revolutionary soldiers marching in the parade. There were groups that represented the extreme left, marching in the parade. There were groups that represented the extreme right, marching in the parade. There were groups that represented music. There were even groups that represented a tennis club, and a choir, and a children's dance studio! There were all different kinds of groups of people in this parade. Some groups, perhaps, had philosophical tensions between one another. But the marvelous thing is: it was one parade! Everyone was marching together. At the end of the parade, everyone dispersed and probably went to a nice picnic - in peace with one another. In this great, peaceful, free land, there was one parade with many groups, and there was peace among them, and they all marched together. I think that is great.
America is the defender of peace. What a Holy thing, that is. Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. I believe that is America, and that is what makes America great. America is a place where peace can flourish. America is a place where faith can flourish. We can come to church on a Sunday morning and not be afraid to be here. In some countries that is not the case, but in America it is. Because America is the defender of faith, dreams can flourish.
I am a first generation American. Both my parents were born in Poland. They lived not far from each other in Poland, but never met until they came here. They had this in common, both of them left virtually everything behind. I have not one material object that either of them brought with them to America. They left everything behind but the clothes on their back. They got on a boat in the harbor in Poland and sailed across the ocean. They arrived at Ellis Island and saw the Statue of Liberty. They registered and became Americans, because there was a dream and a hope in their heart. They didnít have much by way of material goods, but they sure had hope. They knew America was the land where dreams could come true. Because America is the defender of peace, dreams can flourish. My Dad and my Mom worked really hard to put a life together for themselves. They made life possible for a little boy and were determined to give that boy an education. My father worked in a factory, my mom worked in a bank, so that their little boy could have a high school education, then a college education, then a master degree, and a doctoral degree. They worked so it could happen. America is the land where it can happen.
Because America is the defender of peace, great minds can flourish. The Henry Fords of the world can invent things, and make economies flourish. The Thomas Edisons of the world can invent things and make progress happen. The Robert Wood Johnsons of the world can work on things of medicine and help people get better. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jrs of the world and the Abraham Lincolns of the world can dream, tough dreams, big dreams. In America they can happen because America is the defender of peace. Because there is peace, dreams can flourish.
Letís thank God for America and letís bless America. Because of America there can be peace, because there can be peace, faith can flourish, dreams can flourish. We can be grateful. Say a prayer for America this weekend, wonít you? As you celebrate at your picnic, as you look at the fireworks see signs of peace. Rockets bursting in air can be a sign of peace, because America is the defender of peace. Let us give thanks for this great land we call America.
A man named Irving Berlin was a Jewish waiter in New York City who had a flair for song writing. He wrote some beauties, among them was this one, God Bless America. Letís sing it together. (Congregation sings with Pastor Tony at the piano. Next everyone sings and claps along to the song, I Have Got Peace Like a River)
God loves you; I do too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2010 Anthony J. Godlefski