I consider myself a patriotic American. I am jealous about the good name and noble virtue of American exceptionalism in the world. I am in awe of the faithful folk who have stood guard against our enemies and whose blood was shed on battlefields far and near for the sake of this nation and the freedom we value so highly. I grew up carrying those white crosses adorned with poppies out to the cemeteries of fallen soldiers. I still shudder when the guns of a military salute go off and tears well up in my eyes at the funerals of veterans when a soldier gets down on one knee and presents the flag to the bereaved on behalf of a grateful nation. But there is no American flag inside the nave or chancel of this church and there should not be.
It is one of the gravest of sins to presume God's loyalty to a people or a land and to interweave faith and patriotism. The resulting fabric will not be faithful to either cause when we assume that God is one of us (Americans or any other nation and people) and when we declare ours the only righteous land and citizenry in the world. We do not do our nation or our faith any good by beating our chests and proclaiming God in our hip pocket.
If you are a patriotic American, then pray for the our President, the members of Congress, your Governor, state legislature, judges, mayors, and all levels of civil servants elected and appointed. Do not pray for those you like or those with whom you agree but for all manner of leaders in the kingdom of the left. Pray for their wisdom, for their faithfulness, for their faithful exercise of the powers entrusted to them as servants of the people, and pray for them to be people of truth and integrity who love justice, who act mercifully, and who carry the solemn mantle of public service humbly. And while you are at it, do not speak so disparagingly of our politicians that no one of good repute and noble character would deign to serve the public good.
If you are a patriotic American, then render unto Caesar the things that are his as your civil, patriotic, and solemn duty. Don't cheat on your income taxes and call it the great national sport. Don't sit at home while others cast their ballots for people, initiatives, and referendums. Don't be a silent minority or majority but engage the issues, causes, and conversations of the public square, guided by principle and faith as well. Don't refuse to speak circumspectly or to act virtuously but show forth good citizenship as best you can until and unless to do so would violate God's law.
If you are a patriotic American, cheer on the defense of the defenseless, the protection of the vulnerable, the cause of the unborn, the aged, and the infirm, and challenge oppression, hatred, and bigotry in all its forms. Honor life as precious gift and not as the prerogative of rich, the powerful, or those who intimidate. Refuse to allow life to be valued by the almighty dollar, the parade of accomplishments, or how productive one can be. Protect rights without dismantling morality or diminishing virtue or surrendering right to wrong, goodness to evil.
Going to worship on a Sunday close to a national holiday and raising up the flag where Christ alone should reign helps neither patriotism nor the faith. Be wary of those who intermix and confuse the two for they are prone to abuse one for the sake of the other. God is not an American but live your life and profess your faith so that your patriotism will not diminish your faith and your faith will ennoble your life as citizen and both will be honored. I know that there will be those who might take offense at what I have written but a patriot is more than someone who waves the flag a couple of times a year.