Pledging allegiance through prayer
By PASTOR GREG ASIMAKOUPOULOS
Mercer Island Reporter Columnist
September 24, 2008 · 2:11 PM
Three thousand years ago, a king of Israel recorded a promise from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was a welcomed word of hope to a nation with a checkered past when it came to honoring their Creator. Nonetheless, it was a promise that came with a specific condition.
The king must have had a quivering hand as he moved his quill across a scroll of parchment. After all, he was recording the words of the Almighty. Solomon wrote, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land…” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
According to this ancient text, the spiritual health of a nation is not without cause. It is the direct result of a sequence of events. Humility before God leads to prayer. A conscious reliance on God leads to repentance from wrong. The outcome is a sense of divine blessing.
Perhaps that’s why Congress continues to begin its daily sessions with prayer. It is no doubt why concerned adults gather in places of worship on the National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of May. Those dusty words from the Old Testament are no doubt why sanctuaries and synagogues were crowded in spontaneous prayer gatherings on Sept. 11, seven years ago. It is why the Mercer Island Clergy Association came together for a service of remembrance and prayer when a gunman stole the lives of collegians at Virginia Tech 18 months ago.
Eighteen years ago, another unique prayer gathering occurred that continues to be felt across the country and in our community. On Sept. 12, 1990, 45,000 high school students from a variety of church backgrounds in four different states met at their respective school flagpoles. The simple purpose of the gathering was to pray for the concerns of our country.
This student-run event that came to be known as “See You At The Pole” has become cultural phenomenon. Its exponential growth is reflected in the number of communities where SYATP events take place and in the growing number of participants.
Last year, more than three million Christian students from every imaginable denominational stripe gathered at school flag poles before school in all 50 states. This unique expression of First Amendment rights is characterized by student-led prayer that focuses on the well-being of the nation.
This year, the “See You At The Pole” observance takes place around the country today, Sept. 24. It is expected that students at both Mercer Island High School and Islander Middle School will participate. Following the protocol of other campuses, students will gather before the start of classes, circling the flagpole outside the front door.
Celebrating their religious freedom while welcoming diverse faith perspectives, the ecumenical group of Mercer Island teens will pledge their allegiance to the biblical truth preserved through Solomon’s pen. They will simply call on God to guide our President, his cabinet and members of Congress, and for the protection of our troops overseas.
I applaud the courage of the students who will participate. It takes no small amount of courage to circle a flagpole and publicly pray (silently or aloud). As a member of the Mercer Island Clergy Association, I am thrilled that students from a variety of faith communities can put their theological differences aside in order to ask God to heal our land.
The poet is correct: “In God We Trust’s our only hope to have the confidence to cope. We stand most tall when on our knees we seek the Lord in prayer.”
A book signing with Mercer Island’s Pastor/Poet Greg Asimakoupoulos, featuring his latest book, “Rhymes and Reasons,” will take place from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Sunday at Island Books. Refreshments will be served, and some of Pastor Greg’s other books will be available for purchase.
Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos is the head of the Mercer Island Covenant Church and a regular contributor to the Reporter.Contact Mercer Island Reporter Columnist Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos at AwesomeRev@aol.com.