This edited transcript was first delivered to the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, Souderton, PA, May 2022
On December 28, 2006 with my wife Brenda and our three children, I left everything familiar and moved across the world to the United States.
I still remember my mother, with a closed fist, beating hard upon my chest with great emotion telling me to, ‘go, just go’ as Brenda and I took her only grandchildren to the other side of the world.
Upon arrival in the United States, we found a nation that adopted us – a nation welcomed us in and gave us opportunity. I quickly learned that there were liberties in this nation, freedom and liberty, especially around the freedom of religion, that I had not experienced previously in the way they are championed here in the United States.
I knew that America was not perfect – how could a nation be perfect – but I knew that the liberties of this new country of mine were worth preserving, so on February 7, 2014, I gladly raised my right hand, made the oath of citizenship and became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America.
This was an oath that I took seriously as a Christian because the final words of the oath are, ‘So help me God’.
So help me God, to do what?
To support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; to bear true faith and allegiance to the same… to bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law… and to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law… so help me God.
Almighty God was part of the oath I made and that made the oath very weighty. I was asking God to help me be an America citizen.
Sometimes I wonder if some natural born American citizens might cherish and serve our nation more fully, if they too asked God to help them be American citizens and made the oath of citizenship. And sometimes I wonder, if we Americans do not recognize the weighty and good influence this nation has upon the world because of the freedoms that are the foundation of these United States.
When I made that oath in 2014, I was not turning a blind eye to the brokenness of our nation. Look brothers and sisters, I see the brokenness every week when I travel. When I made that oath, I was asking God to help me support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This is so important! Because, if America loses its liberties, great damage will be done to the world.
When I made that oath, I was not joining a political party (in fact I have never joined a political party) I was making a commitment to what is good about this nation.
There are men and women among us, who have fought, served, shed blood, buried their buddies for the America in which we live today – if you are or have served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, the police or as a first responder (active or retired) would you please stand so we can honor you and thank you for your service.
Do not let this nation be lost – too much is at stake, not just for us, but for the world in which we live.
Earlier, I spoke of leaving everything familiar. But looked at what God has given me. I have gained a nation and I have gained you. And for better or worse, you have gained me.
Some people have asked me, ‘Why do you sing the national anthem when the church gathers as a council at synod?’ ‘Is it not a political statement?’ No… it is not political!
The Apostle Paul writes that our conversation, our citizenship are in heaven – all Christians need to remember that.
The anthem itself is an authorized hymn in the hymn book of our province.
I sing the anthem not because our nation is perfect but because we have something in this nation worth keeping and worth defending and I have asked God to help me do that!
If we lose this nation – we are done!
We also sing the anthem to honor those men and women who were just standing because they served to help us keep what we have. And we sing the anthem, recognizing there is brokenness yes, but acknowledging the choice we all have to look to the sunrise side of America, rather than the sunset side of our nation.
The 4th verse of the anthem which we are about to sing – is almost a prayer to God. It says,
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust.”
Those lyrics are just as good as the lyrics to ‘God save the Queen’!
After we sing the National Anthem – we will pray for our nation – for in God is our trust.