A modest proposal & prayer for our nation

Even as someone who has voluntarily served in the military, I have had mixed feelings over the years about the idea of patriotism. I went into the Navy, as most do, before I knew better. I was young, ignorant, and just wanted somewhere to “park” while I figured out what I really wanted to do. I originally wanted to go to college, but it just didn’t happen at the time for a variety of reasons.

The four years I served were a mixture of very good times and very bad times. I met some very good people and some very bad people, but I learned one thing: we are all in this together. At 18 years of age I met and became good friends with someone who had never met or seen a black person…EVER! He had a lot of questions and misconceptions to be sure, but he accepted me as I was. Whether on a ship, in a submarine, or in the barracks…there was no place for prejudice, pride (the bad kind), or pettiness. We all knew that and lived in that reality every day. No, we didn’t all like each other; and we argued, fought, and had disagreements as all “families” do. But we understood that each of us was just as important and worthy and valuable as the other.

As an African American living in the south, I have also learned that often there is plenty of room for each of those–sometimes in the community and sometimes even within the walls of a church building [not The Church.] I am not a raving jingoist, but I do love this country. Even with all I’ve experienced, the United States is where God chose for me to live and as I’ve gotten older, I have learned to appreciate it more with each passing year.

On this 4th of July, I want to offer this prayer in the hopes that we are reminded that we really are all in this {life journey} together and we can, with God’s help, make it more pleasant for each other if we really want to.

Lord,
Grant us peace, your most precious gift.
O eternal Source of peace, bless our country, that it may ever be a stronghold of peace and the advocate of peace in the council of nations.
May contentment reign within its borders, health and happiness within its homes.
Strengthen the bonds of friendship and fellowship between the inhabitants of our land.
Plant virtue in every soul; and may the love of your name hallow every home and every heart.
May you be praised, O Lord, Giver of peace.
Amen.
—Adapted from The Methodist Hymnal

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