Over the weekend I participated with the Rinky Dink and Precision Marching Chairs Band (maybe they have an official other name, but this describes it). What a fun time. For two weeks we had practiced playing and marching - there were four practices in all. Then on Saturday morning at 10AM we gathered in Mansfield to get ready to march. I practiced clarinet on my own, something I was to learn is forbidden since no one else practiced their instruments. People come from all over the area for the parade - traditionally, the Rinky Dinks march last - we had a great time saying "hi" to those we knew along the parade route. We were even judged, but I don't know how that turned out. On Sunday evening, we gathered again and played and sang patriotic songs prior to the fireworks display. Rural America certainly knows how to celebrate a holiday!
On a more serious note, I received a letter encouraging the local churches to preach about "Take back America for God" - the Christian god, I am sure. The organizers mentioned in their call to preach this sermon that our President said this is "no longer a Christian nation" the rest of the quote was omitted. We are not a Christian nation, we are a nation of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Pagans, many others, all following their own God, a god who is generally benevolent and loving. I preached that I was concerned about this increasingly narrow view of who God is and should be and the danger of having our nation be limited to only one view. We were founded by people who wanted their own religious convictions to be part of their lives and our founders, I believe, did not want a state religion. I rarely preach such directive sermons, believing that the pulpit has much power that can be abused. This week, I needed to at least alert my congregation to this movement that is happening in their communities.
The UCC part of me is proud of our tag line: "No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here" and I really want that to be heard in this rural new church start.