I remember when I first encountered the United States, flying over it, casting the shadow of the airplane far below onto the endless green sod and mountainous gray. The thing I was struck with was the vastness and emptiness of the plains below. Each state is just a piece of this God-given magnificence.
Our land is a country made up of little countries, a wee simulacrum of Europe. We forget the scale of what we have been given. America is much, much more than a country. It is majesty.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to roam around this unimaginable place. I have been in the vast mountains of Alaska. I have stood and gazed upon the horrifying remains of Ground Zero in New York. I have traversed Lake Superior in a sailboat under the Northern Lights. I have seen beauty in every raindrop and rainbow.
I remember working in Wisconsin in Rice Lake and Barron, near the relics of Indian mounds, for Jennie-O Turkey Stores (now part of Hormel), working on making the company compliant for the Sarbanes-Oxley law many years ago.
The first time I came to the company’s doors I saw the workers coming to work, dressed in African garb and surrounded by snowflakes and falling turkey feathers. Because there were few local natives to work at the factory, the majority of the workforce were drawn from the Somali community in Minnesota, refugees from civil war. It was a strange and surreal scene.
They were a lost people. The international community had broken up the original families, shattered by their civil war into even more brokenness, and sending members of each family to Canada, Australia or Europe, where the seeds of shocking isolation, grief and trouble would be sewn among these separated families.
The local church told me that the international policy of breaking up families was actually causing radicalism. The church in Wisconsin was making an effort to create new groupings among the Somali people, but it wasn’t enough.
I have noticed that this policy of breaking up families in war-torn regions, ostensibly by international agencies for very thought-out designs, have had the opposite effect. They have created radicalism, the feeling of being “other” and of belonging to a world that has been dissolved from the maps.
The art of assimilation is the particular work that this country is good at. It is a blender and alchemist of cultural selves. We cannot help ourselves but become new in this place. Every new generation is a new version of America — braver, kinder and more creative. It is a fine and heady brew. I love it.
Jesus came out of Samaria, being born in Bethlehem, yet he is owned by the whole world and nobody claims Jesus as uniquely belonging to their country. Yet many countries claim their own prophets as being unique to their state or groupings of states, which makes a colossal mess as you can see as it is played out among the little armies that fill the world with a froth of blood.
The current political distortion in our own environment (which many, including me, characterize as racism) is, seen in the light of our history, not American. At least not modern American. I am praying very hard that this disease of the soul, this disease of little countries, does not poison our vast land of promise. I ask God to intervene and send his angels of amity to end this before it rots.
I say this prayer for you and your family:
“May God’s love blossom in our household and grow out into your garden.
May God’s holiness spill out into the waterways of your heart. May you be a proclaimer of the One, and become a vessel for the life of his son.
May you fear not of bring different for you are made to be new, a new creation of love to shine and renew.
May you protect the little ones, who can grow in your shade, who can shelter from cruelty and take part in the Way.
Become the defender the Lord made you to be. May the Lord walk beside you, every day.
You can email Pastor Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.