GOD, BLESS AMERICA. Not because we deserve Your blessings. We don’t. However, You’d never know it by the way we sing those familiar words. It almost sounds like we are demanding something from You. Forgive us, Father, for the cavalier way we attempt to order You around.
LAND THAT I LOVE. It’s true. In spite of the fact that she is far from perfect, we love this country of contrasting contours. Its amber fields of grain that wave in the wind. Its majestic purple mountains that steal our breath. Its dry desert valleys and orchard-filled plains. Its Great Lakes and Badlands. From the brownstones of inner cities to the White House in the city named for our first President, we love this land where the seeds of freedom continue to grow 241 years after they were first sown.
STAND BESIDE HER. Since that tragic September morning 16 years ago, our country has come to realize how vulnerable she really is. As she continues to fight terrorism and export justice, the continual cost in dollars and human lives leaves her dizzy and in need of support. Deep within her fractured soul she knows she needs You. Without Your overshadowing Presence, freedom’s fruit will no longer grow for future generations to enjoy.
AND GUIDE HER. Yes, Lord, please guide her. Our beloved nation has never needed a compass like she does today. She is disoriented, divided and too-often double-minded. Unsure of what she stands for, she is prone to fall for anything that is halfway believable. Time was when she looked to Your dictates for direction. The Bible was once her road map. The Ten Commandments were her milepost. But, by bending over backwards in an attempt to become tolerant, she has become a victim of moral vertigo.
THROUGH THE NIGHT. Even though the nightmare of Sept. 11 has passed, the twilight zone of war continues to eclipse the promise of a new day we all long for. The crescent moon in the dark sky overhead reminds us of the religious diversity that is foundational to our democracy. But it also finds us fearing Islamic extremism as we nervously long for the dawn.
WITH THE LIGHT. There are glimpses of light all around us, Father. Candles in churches. Spotlights on flags. A kaleidoscope of colored fireworks exploding overhead. They remind us of the hope that we have in You (and our fellow citizens) when we are engulfed by black storm clouds of political debate or are forced to walk through the valley of death’s dark shadows.
FROM ABOVE. But candles burn out and fireworks are temporary. Even spotlights eventually need to be replaced. Only Your light can dispel the darkness that we most fear. With laser-like precision, please penetrate the membrane of apathy and anxiety that blankets our nation and suffocates our joy.
FROM THE MOUNTAINS. From Mt. McKinley to Pike’s Peak, from the Rockies to the Smokies. From the green timbers of Mt. Rainier to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. From Mt. St. Helens in Washington to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. Lord, may the glory of Your creation in this breathtaking land continue to cause us to lift up our eyes to the hills as we celebrate our freedom.
TO THE PRAIRIES. Windswept, yet fertile. The heartland of our nation, where hardworking people prove that determination irrigated by sweat and tears, is essential to growing the American dream. Although the mountain peaks may seem more exotic, we are grateful for those who tame the earth by farming level ground. Reward their efforts, Lord.
TO THE OCEANS WHITE WITH FOAM. A nonstop surf that dances effortlessly on a stage of undisturbed beaches. A dance in which every move is choreographed by the moon You hung in the sky. East coast, west coast, left coast, right coast. The Atlantic and the Pacific define the borders of the land called brave and free. But our white-foamed oceans are more than water boundaries. They are also the waterways immigrants have traveled in search of a better life. Lord, may You continue to bring to our land those who will enrich us by their varied experiences. Won’t You also bring those whose poverty we can eliminate by our bounty and Your grace?
GOD, BLESS AMERICA. It is a prayer we offer with fervent hope. Knowing what we know, we cannot imagine life in this land apart from Your blessing. Our enemies are few, but deadly. Our vulnerability is unmistakable. Our destiny is solely in Your hands. And so, we confess that, unless You bless us, we will topple from the pedestal to which we have become accustomed for a quarter of a millennia. God, won’t You bless our country once again?
MY HOME SWEET HOME. While it is not home to all who populate our planet, America is our home. She has sheltered us from threat of war and given us a place of belonging. It is the home in which we have grown up nursed by moral values, coached in taking our first steps along the open paths of opportunity, coaxed to claim our right to freely speak and encouraged to find our calling in a land where everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. Yes, America is our home. And thanks to You, Almighty God, it is very sweet indeed.
Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos is the chaplain at Covenant Shores retirement community on Mercer Island. He is the faith and values columnist for the Reporter and contributes poetry each Blue Friday to KOMO news radio.