America the Beautiful

I dressed in red, white, and blue today, went to two barbecues, ate out of the garden, used my sunglasses, and curled up in a blanket to watch fireworks. It was a great forth! But I am going to remember it for a white-haired guy I met over the tomatoes at Winco.

We both lamented how orange the “ripe” tomatoes were. He insisted I take the ripest of a bunch since he would let them ripen on his counter for a few days. I asked his name.

“I was born John, my friends call me Christine.”

I laughed, wished him a happy forth, then introduced myself. It was a cool connection. I’m going to pray for him as Chris with whatever struggles he is going through. He seemed to be a cool guy.

That’s the kind of encounter I wish I had more often. The people I interact with are 90% Americans, and everyone is created by God. Why do I forget that so often and focus on what is different about people? Today I prayed that our town, city, nation would gain unity. That the church would wake up and reach out, and people would respond. I prayed for our government, leaders, military – especially those away from home and their families.

These words are powerful reminders of the beauty of American heritage:

1 O beautiful for spacious skies,
for amber waves of grain;
for purple mountain majesties
above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
and crown thy good with brotherhood
from sea to shining sea.

2 O beautiful for heroes proved
in liberating strife,
who more than self their country loved,
and mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
till all success be nobleness,
and every gain divine.

3 O beautiful for patriot dream
that sees beyond the years
thine alabaster cities gleam,
undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control,
thy liberty in law.

From the United Methodist Hymnal, 1989

God, thank You for America. Please help us to seek Your will for our country, and seek to love each other as You love us. Thank You for how You worked in my heart today. Please help it to continue working through me. To Your glory, Amen.

God’s promise to Israel as Solomon dedicated the temple:

14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

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