My mother bought me a miniature yellow rosebush for my birthday in June. Sad to say, by November it was looking pretty peaked. Actually, there was nothing pretty about it. I’m sure the days of drought offset by times of flooding didn’t help. My weeks of alternating neglect and overcompensation had brought the little plant to a pitiful low. It had dead leaves, bound roots and tons of tiny bugs; its flowers were pale and wilting. I consulted our resident plant and soil technologist and she suggested an extreme makeover: Break up the roots, repot it, cut it back, give it a little fertilizer, and pay more attention to it.
I’m thinking our country could use an extreme makeover along the same lines, and it should start with believers.
Consider these words from President John Adams on Oct. 11, 1798: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. … Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Fast-forward to 2009. Avarice and ambition abound, from the Wall Street and bank bailouts to the earmarks that were slipped into the health care bill to the excessive pork in any given piece of legislation.
Can we do anything about it? Of course we can. First and foremost, we need to pray as we never have before. Paul told Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1st Timothy 2:1-2). And after we’ve prayed we need to elect officials who truly embody our ideals.
We need to get back to our spiritual roots. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote on May 9, 1833: “The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity and did not often refer to it and exhibit relations with it.”
One hundred years after Marshall’s death, the U.S. Supreme Court building was finished, complete with east and south wall sculptures of Moses with the Ten Commandments. Every session begins with, “God save the United States and this Honorable court.” But for how much longer? Will we sit idly by until every vestige of Christianity is removed, not just from federal properties, but from all properties?
In 1995, President Clinton said, “Religion is too important to our history and our heritage for us to keep it out of our schools. … Nothing in the First Amendment converts our public schools into religion-free zones or requires all religious expression to be left behind at the schoolhouse door.” Let’s remember that the next time someone wants to pray before a school-sponsored event.
On June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower signed Public Law 396 adding “One nation under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. He said, “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. … In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”
You can’t use what you don’t have. If we allow all things “religious” (translation: Christian) to be removed without taking a stand, there’ll be nothing left on which to stand.
So where do we start? What do we, as believers, do to strengthen our nation, bring honor, truth and justice back into our government in 2010? Go to the source of all wisdom: GOD. He left us everything we need to know in His book, but it doesn’t do us any good if it’s gathering dust on the shelf. If we fail to take in His word, then we put ourselves in a state of spiritual anorexia, and have no strength to face life’s challenges. That’s not what God designed for us. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
In Ephesians 5:14-16, Paul warned, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
It is, indeed, time to wake up and get back on track. The best place to start is the Bible, Genesis 1:1, and read it through in a year. And, while you’re reading, apply it to your living.
I did the math with my Revised Standard Version, and if I read 4.15 pages a day, I’ll be done on Dec. 31. I’m already on page nine (I had to finish the chapter) — God’s about to bring in the rainbow.
Will you join me? Together we can make a difference.
Happy New Year!
Information for this column came from “An American Minute with Bill Federer” at www.americanminute.com. Brenda J. Norris is assistant Sunday school leader and choir director at the West Lubec Methodist Church. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Voices is a weekly commentary by Maine people who explore issues affecting spirituality and religious life.