Remember and Recite

Many of us come from the generations where memorization meant everything. In school we were taught to recite our addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables, the elements of the periodic table, know the states and their capitols, and the list of presidents. In church we were taught to recite the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments. Saying something made it true, it signified our understanding and assent to it. It is with some great interest then that some time ago I read an article on parenting from a pastor who was troubled at the realization that his son could recite the Pledge of Allegiance but not the Apostle’s Creed. Two different texts that most of us were expected to memorize, both pledging our allegiances, but to often contradictory things.
How often have you considered the Apostle’s Creed as a “pledge” or realized just how counter-cultural, anti-imperial and politically subversive it is? In the Apostle’s Creed we claim that it is the Father who created the world—meaning then that our nation, our existence, and our freedoms are not ultimately created or sustained by human will. When we claim that Jesus Christ is Lord, we declare that everyone and everything else is not our Lord and cannot demand our allegiance. Our Creed declares that we are brothers and sisters with others in faith, regardless of political or geographical boundaries. In claiming that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, we announce to the world that neither death, nor those who deal in death, can hold or demand anything from us. By saying we believe in the forgiveness of sins, we do not only state a belief that God has forgiven us, but that God has likewise given us the ability and the command to forgive others, including those who live on the other side of the fence. In affirming the communion of saints, we assert that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to connect across cultures, races, political agendas, and national boundaries. As we declare our belief in eternal life, we maintain that God’s politics and people will out-serve the temporal nation in which we live.

None of this is to say we should not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but to recognize that as Christians, if we say what we mean and mean what we say, then we must wrestle with this notion that when we are true to our faith we will find it is often at odds with our culture and our country. This is where we must keep our hearts and minds open, carefully, thoughtfully and faithfully considering how our faith is lived out in our lives and how it must affect our decisions and our governance. As we enter into this election season I urge us to be good citizens of our community and our country, but to be even better citizens of the kingdom of God of which we are members forever and to which our allegiances must ultimately be proclaimed.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Tara