Today was one of the lower points of my time as a pastor. To start with, it was snowing like crazy all morning. Attendance is always down the Sunday after Thanksgiving anyway, and it was even worse with the bad weather. But I was actually surprised we had as many as we did.
We also had a southern gospel singing group do the worship service this morning. I don't know how many times they have called and asked to come to our church, and I finally gave in a couple weeks ago. I figured 'how much damage can they do in one Sunday?' I think I underestimated. I won't comment on the group... It's not my kind of music, and the leader wasn't feeling well, so... whatever.
What bothered me the most about the entire morning though, and has me reconsidering some things, is they sang that song, "I'm proud to be an American..." and "God bless the U-S-A..." Um, you know, again, it's not my type of music; and I am not trying to be anti-American or unpatriotic or anything.... but when they sang that song... everyone stood up. I'm serious. The people in the congregation spontaneously STOOD. FREAKING. UP!!! It was one of the most humiliating and depressing moments I have had as a pastor (in awhile anyway).
I was sitting there with my eyes closed already so no one would see that I was about to puke (okay, so I HATE that song - which doesn't mean I hate America; I hate the song). Then, I don't even remember why I opened my eyes, but I noticed people starting to stand. And I began to feel sick to my stomach. And what made it all the worse was... *I* eventually stood up too. The whole time I stood I was praying and asking God to forgive us. I felt so bad. Like such a coward. I had caved. And the only reason was because I didn't want to "start something." ....I should have. I am glad there were a few people who did not stand. I feel bad still that I did.
Please don't misunderstand... this has nothing to do with patriotism, and it's not that I don't like living where I do, or that I don't appreciate certain things about our country. It's not about that. But this stuff has ABSOLUTELY NO PLACE in a church worship service. Why did we not stand on any songs that lifted up God? What does being American have to do with our faith? It just.... I don't know... it almost makes me sick to think about it still. To think that this is what my church is about. And I'm supposed to be the spiritual guide here. I don't know... I'm just not sure how to proceed. I don't know yet what it will mean. Ugh.
For the record, I am proud to be a Christian. I love God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I owe my life to Him, and I want to live to serve God and his purposes. I think it's about time I quit pussy-footin' around and started standing up for truth, justice, and the way of Christ.
Lord, help me.