My life picked up a theme on Sunday. A theme that keeps popping up into my life and into my thoughts leaving me no choice, but to address it.
The theme that has been building since my move back to the wonderful state of Michigan is American Pride and what better day to address it then Veteran’s day!
8 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.3 for I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
The problem with an American Pride theme is that it is so subjective. What is American Pride? Is it the same for every generation? Is it different for men vs women? I believed a variety of answers would be given to these questions and I would be a fool to assume my answers are the only correct ones, but this is my blog.
To me American Pride can be summed up in three words, “God, Family, and Country.” To me American Pride is a person that maintains a good relationship with their God and lives by the guidelines of their religious beliefs. To me a person with American Pride takes care of family first, but understands that at times those that are not blood are just as close as those with the same blood. This means they take care of their children, their elderly, and their spouse by being vibrant productive citizens. To me the largest component of American Pride is country. This involves paying taxes to keep our government working, to participate in charity to care for the needy, and to support our troops and military for their selfless act of protection. But, it goes beyond those over used definition. To me it is an understanding to buy American products, to support the small business man, to taking care of our land, water, and resources. The symbol of American Pride is to fly our red, white, and blue flag….Everywhere!
I see more flags, more buy American stickers, and more American Pride here in Michigan than I ever did in Florida. American Pride needs to be in every corner of this great nation.
With that said, Let me alleviate some of the tension from my definition. I do believe that an American should support the government because it is essential to keep our civilized society civilized. However, I believe our Constitution works like a treaty between the government and the Citizens and that currently government is not holding up to their part of the treaty. My point of view shows the government not holding up to their part of the treaty and that activity I do not necessarily support. I do not wish to get political today…maybe another day.
So, my American Pride issues came to full boil for me this past Sunday. It occurred under the most peculiar circumstance from the last person I expected to evoke it. I was in church and the pastor of the church flat out offended my American Pride. Why this surprised me is a mystery to me because he has been walking around my relationship with my God in an offensive stance for weeks, but this last Sunday he stomped down right on top of my American Pride. Now, the rebel American inside me must speak out.
I believe The Pastor is a figure head for the church and I believe this is where the offense started…my deep unconscious beliefs that just like a famous person (athlete, actor) everything The Pastor does and says while in the front of the church is influencing somebody. Therefore, The Pastor should have only opinions about what his religion, which he is representing, feels about a subject. His personal opinions should be kept personal and silent while he is representing the church. During this past Sunday’s sermon The Pastor was most definitely representing the church!
As a nurse for almost two decades I am very aware of hard it can be to keep objective and silent in the face of adversity. However, the nursing profession would be unable to maintain its autonomy if there were not expectations of professionalism for all those in the profession. Sometimes, I think those in the lime-light carry a heavier burden. This burden The Pastor carries is a burden he chooses. I am personally disappointed in his inability to carry it objectively.
The Pastor began to talk about Starbucks in an attempt to give away a $5 coupon (I do not agree with that during service either, but not as strongly or for the same reasons.) when The Goat Man spoke up to answer his question about Starbucks by saying that they do not support the troops his response was, “well, that’s their problem.” What does that mean? The Pastor listed Galatians 6: 2 as scripture relevant to that day’s sermon.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.(Galatians 6:2)
Left in limbo I was unsure whether to be offended or not, but my American Pride was on full alert and ready to kick some ass similar to that fateful day in September 2001.
I held silent as I often do in social situations. I believe there is a time and a place for everything. Isn’t that what the Bible says?
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Honestly, I must confess…Sadly, I only go off what I saw in Footloose. Possibly, that bit of proof takes away my credibility to be upset.
It was later in the service when he talked about having no need for the IRS, making jokes about taxes, and ultimately telling the parishioners that if they do not belief how he does they should have their heads examined that I began a struggle about whether politics should be discussed during a sermon. My gut, that rarely has proof of its feelings, says no. However, I have heard some good arguments for the reality that it is desired and accepted in church.
Although, as a figure head of the church, The Pastor should only discuss politics to the extent that it reflects the church’s views, as a whole. Does the church I attended on Sunday not care that Starbucks does not support the troops? Do they not want me to pay my taxes and support our police, firefighters, and military? This is what our taxes do, right? They take care of our roads, schools, and citizens. I am not okay with how my government is spending the money they are allotted, but I am not ready to stop paying the civil service workers or stop educating the children. It is still my government and I do not know of a better government or a better country.
While sitting through sermon Sunday, I had a moment where I asked myself, “What am I doing here?” It felt like I no longer shared enough beliefs with those around me to stay. After all, he represents the entire church certainly and possibly the entire religion. Maybe I am just sensitive because for weeks he has made statements that have made me feel unwanted in that congregation or maybe I am just sensitive because for several weeks now we have talked of giving with an open heart and his example is so saddening. He announced he did not like anything at Starbucks in one breath and gave a coupon away in the next breath…
For weeks he has talked about a poor lady who had nothing to give, but gave her last penny and a wealthy man who gave away all his current gold and told us that a giving heart was found in the woman who gave what she truly needed herself and not found in the man who gave away things he did not need or desire. It did not matter how shiny his things were or how meager her penny was. It was about a giving heart.
The Widow’s offering
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
What now am I to believe? The story that The Pastor, the figure head…the representative…preached for weeks or the example he leads?
Faith and Deeds
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:14-19)
My American Pride says that I do not support any company that does not support my America and I do not associate with anyone or anything that does not support my America…So what do I do about church now?
I do not wish to slam Starbucks because I have no idea if they support American troops or not. I do not go to Starbucks because I do not like coffee enough to pay their prices. I do not frequent any coffee establishment. I do know the rumor is strong and therefore, I probably will get my coffee elsewhere because of my American Pride. Each of you should make your own decision.
At the end of the service on Sunday The Pastor encouraged an announcement about Veteran’s Day. I cannot seem to shake an uneasy feeling about the views of the church, although, I think maybe The Pastor is just trying to relate to a congregation that is as much mixed in a melting pot of religious beliefs as the country is a melting pot of cultures. He tries and fails often at humor. The only thing I know for sure is that either The Pastor is a terrible figure head or I need a new church!
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord you God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (Exodus 20:7)
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourself. Do what it says. (James 4:22)
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4: 17)
Please, do not forget out Veteran’s on their day. Please, do not forget them and their jobs well done on every single day. I would not be able to write this blog if it were not for their American Pride. Hang the American flag high and proud. Thank you to all of the Veteran’s and those serving currently…God bless America!
ReferenceHoly Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Retrieved from: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1%3A22&version=NIV
As many people have heard over the years, the rumor is that Starbucks does not support our troops. In a very quick internet search without much credibility of sources in mind I discovered a story about Starbucks charging rescue workers $130 for water in 2001, Marines asking for coffee grounds denied to them with a letter stating Starbucks does not support the troops, and a statement from Starbucks CEO saying the rumors are unfounded. Each of these sources blamed a different person for starting the rumors.
I am not sure we will ever know the truth. But according to the internet this is what Starbucks has done for our troops:
- The VIA coffee donation is one of the ways Starbucks and its partners (employees) have actively supported military service members for the past 12 years. Here are some examples:
- 2002 - Starbucks worked with the Red Cross to send its first shipment of coffee overseas to troops. Members of the Starbucks Armed Forces Network (AFN) have regularly organized care package shipments since then.
- 2003 – A Starbucks store in Fredericksburg, Virginia donated 93 pounds of coffee, delivered by then-Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers during a holiday trip to the region.
- 2004 – 12,000 pounds of Starbucks coffee from the company’s roasting plant in Kent, Washington was shipped to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. At Andrews, airmen with the 89th Aerial Port packed the coffee on pallets and loaded it aboard a C-17. Since that trip, another 5,000 pounds went overseas to troops in August 2005, 18,000 pounds in December 2005, and 1,100 in July 2006.
- Members of the Starbucks Armed Forces Network (AFN) have regularly organized care package shipments since then, including the most recent shipment in December of 2014, the AFN packed over 50 boxes for service members.
- Starbucks raised funds for organizations supporting veterans and active duty service members through The Concert for Valor and a new book co-authored by Howard Schultz, “For Love of Country.” In addition, Starbucks is on its way toward hiring 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018.-- https://news.starbucks.com/news/starbucks-provides-coffee-to-every-u.s.-service-member-in-afghanistan