The month of earlier evening darkness. The month of Veteran's Day. The month of the 5th, 6th and 7th games of the World Series, if necessary (Seriously? Do we really want players to have to dress like Eskimos to play at least some of what are the most important games of the season in order to avoid frostbite?). And November. The month of two other things that belong together about as much as baseball and frostbite.
Elections and the phrase “God bless America”.
It seems as if it has become almost impossible for any political candidate, especially Presidential candidates, to give a speech without concluding or including the words “God Bless America”. And while I do not question the sincerity of those who do, it has gotten to the point where it has become an unwritten rule – you must say it or you are either godless, unpatriotic, or both. It is now said so routinely that at times it sounds less a hope than a given, while at other times I really have no idea how the speaker means it.
According to Religion News Service though, the first President to use the phrase “God Bless America” in a speech was Richard Nixon, and it was on the occasion of announcing the resignation of three of his top officials in the depths of the Watergate scandal. It was “God Bless America” as in, “Please God, bless America, because we are in a mess”. In that sense, it was said in the way our ancient Israelite faith ancestors often called on God’s blessing – for help in delivering them from times of captivity and oppression.
But as a nation, we, of course, are neither captive nor oppressed. We are already blessed in enormous ways, at least in material and safety terms. Perhaps instead of “God bless America” then, the more honest – and certainly the more faithful thing – would be for our candidates to express the sentiment, “May America Bless God”...
November. Also the month of Thanksgiving. While we appropriately thank God during this time for all we have been blessed with, may we also consider the ways in which we have been a blessing to God by being a blessing to God’s people. May we reflect on how we have used what God has blessed us with to pass on blessings to others at the individual, family, community, national and world levels.
I want to thank you for the many ways that I constantly see you, day after day, bless God. May we – and America – always do so.