While the United States’ official national anthem is “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” I’ve always been partial to the country’s unofficial anthem, “America, the Beautiful.” Preparing for this Sunday’s ecumenical worship service with our neighbors at Episcopal Church of the Advent, I’m hearing the line
America, America, God shed His grace on thee / and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea
through the ears of the prophet Zechariah:
God will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and God shall command peace to the nations; God’s dominion shall be from sea to sea… (Zech 9:10)
How often empire is drawn to the battle hymns, and still God continues to invite us to join in God’s creation song of peace and plenty.
As our own nation makes plans to call its soldiers home, may this Independence Day weekend’s gift to us be the opportunity to take stock as a nation of the cost of war, and the promise of peace.