“South America stole our name.” That’s a lyric from Randy Newman’s song “Political Science” that has always made me stop and think. As we gather on July 4th with family and friends to give thanks for the freedom we enjoy in the United States of North America I pray that we will keep the other two Americas –South and Central America in our minds and our prayers as well.
Some are starting to suggest that our national anthem should be changed. For one thing, it’s a really hard song to sing. For another thing it has a lot of bombs and rockets in it. Some have suggested it be changed to Woody Guthrie’s “this Land is Your Land. Others are suggesting that it be changed to “America the Beautiful.” The chorus of that song says, ‘America, America God shed his grace on Thee.” The only problem is that there are three Americas. All of them need God’s grace shed upon them.
In my previous churches we used to sing, “In Christ there is no East or West, in him no South or North, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth.” It is because of the freedom we have in Christ that we can be joined in fellowship with people in all three Americas and indeed in the whole wide earth.
A couple of years ago when Anne and I went on vacation to Colonial Williamsburg, as I stood in the chapel in next to George Washington’s pew there was a track playing “My Country Tis of Thee.” (which are lyrics set to the tune of “God Save The Queen”) Every Wednesday at the Rotary meetings I used to attend in Baytown we would begin with a pledge of allegiance to the flag of our country that says we are “one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
Having spent time on my vacation on a battlefield where men died to gain liberty from England (so we could change the words of “God Save the Queen” to “My Country Tis of Thee,”) and on a battlefield when we fought against each other to prove that we were not permanently “divisible,” I spent that 4th of July remembering what it took to secure and to preserve our freedom. The following Sunday I stood in the pulpit and shared about Jesus commissioning his 12 disciples to go and proclaim repentance and offer freedom in Christ for all … throughout the “whole wide earth.” Here’s to hoping and praying and working so that God would shed grace on the “whole wide earth” including all 3 … Americas.