God Bless America

WY-Yellowstone-NP-Lower-Falls-wideBeing the Fourth of July I suspect that in many churches today and at various Independence Day celebrations the song “God Bless America” has been sung.  This hymn by Irving Berlin is certainly a popular one.  Before its familiar chorus the song says, “Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, as we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.”  Today we should, indeed, be grateful for the beauty of this country.  I have had the privilege of traveling to many foreign nations but I have seen none that excel this one for its natural beauty.  When God created the land we call America He truly did bless it.

The hymn “God Bless America” is considered a patriotic anthem but it might just as well be an environmental one.  Here we sing “From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home.”  In this “solemn prayer” we seek God’s blessings for that which He has made—the mountains, the prairies, the oceans.

I suppose it is fine to continue to ask God’s blessings on His Creation but just as much Creation needs our blessing.  It needs our care.  Many of the mountains in this country have been ravaged.  Our prairies have vastly shrunk due to urban development.  The oceans surrounding our country were terribly polluted even before the BP oil spill.  God blessed this “land that I love.”  We seem to have cursed it.

The way that we have treated our land makes me wonder if we even have the right to sing “God Bless America.”  How can we ask God to bless this land when we have misused it in so many ways?  I have written before that one of my fundamental beliefs is that with blessing comes responsibility.  How many of us have truly been responsible as stewards of God’s good earth?  Of America, “my home, sweet home”?

We seem to have forgotten—or never understood—that God blessed this land with natural resources not just so that we could prosper, but so that we might see and know Him in that which He has made.  My prayer today is that God will bless America with a love for its land and for its Creator.  Both deserve a greater love than we have given thus far.

–Chuck

(I took the image above of Lower Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park was taken a few years ago in early July.)