Wednesday, July 4, 2012

God Blessed America, Make Me a Blessing

On this July 4th, I was thinking of all the ways that God has blessed this country. We have been a country of hard workers and great thinkers, and God has blessed that. We split the atom. We went to the moon. We said "Slavery is wrong!" though we still bear the scars of that commitment. We said, "It is wrong to judge a person by the color of their skin," and we still try to live up to that ideal.

I know I feel blessed to have been born in this country and in a system which gave me opportunities. I wanted to join in the chorus of "God Bless America" today, but I want to make it more specific. You see, the other night, I watched the Disney movie "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" with my boys for the first time. It sounds a little over-protective, I am sure, but the more adult themes in that movie made me wait until they were older to show it to them. Now, 11 & 13, we sat and enjoyed what is probably my favorite animated Disney movie. As we listened to Esmerelda's song, "God Help the Outcasts," I watched as the boys were moved (and even a little convicted) by her prayer.
"God help the outcasts, hungry from birth. Show them the mercy they don't find on earth. God help my people. We look to You still. God help the outcasts or nobody will."
Then the parishoners sing: 
 "I ask for wealth. I ask for fame. I ask for glory to shine on my name. I ask for love I can posess. I ask for God and His angels to bless me."
Esmerelda responds:
"I ask for nothing I can get by, but I know so many less lucky than I. Please help my people, the poor and downtrod. I thought we all were the children of God."
While she was singing, Thomas turned to me and said, "I bet she's the one God heard. Not those other prayers." I was grateful he could tell a good prayer from a bad one, and as I reflected on the national prayer that will be invoked numerous times today, "God Bless America," I wanted to make my prayer more targeted today:
  • God bless the one in five children in America born into poverty, without the opportunities I have been given. Please bless them God.
  • God bless the eight out of 1000 families in America who lost a child under 5. Please God bless them.
  • God bless the 6.7 million Americans in prison. Help them find rehabilitation. Help them find healing. Help them find you. God bless them.
  • God bless the 3.5 million Americans who will experience homelessness this year. God grant them a home. God bless them.
  • God bless the nearly 50 million Americans who experience hunger. Grant them daily bread. God bless them.
  • God bless those Americans who are absent due to war. May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Grant us peace, O God. God bless them.
  • God bless the children who have absent parents due to war (whether that absence be temporary or permanent). God grant them your presence. God bless them 
Dear God, for me and those blessed like me, we can get by. I pray you give us the wisdom and the courage to use the blessings from you and to be your blessing in these needs and those I didn't think of today. Thank you for this country. Thank you for the rich blessings you have poured out on it for nearly two and a half centuries. You have blessed us. Please make us a blessing. Amen.