What is the heart of America?
At our worst: Ambition, Self Interest, Profit at all cost
At our best: Hope, Opportunity, Freedom
At our best, the heart of America is to be a blessing. The Founding Fathers understood this when they ratified the constitution.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Emma Lazarus understood this when she wrote the sonnet “The New Colossus” to help raise money to build the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Her poem forever named Lady Liberty’s purpose- to be a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the US, understood this when he made a speech at the dedication of a statue of Francis Asbury in our nation’s capital.
“Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberty, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government. There are only two main theories of government in the world. One rests on righteousness, the other rests on force. One appeals to reason, the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in a republic, the other is represented by a despotism…. Our government rests upon religion. The religious movement which Francis Asbury represented was distinctly a movement to reach the great body of the people. Just as our Declaration of Independence asserts that all men are created free, so it seems to me the founders of this [Methodist] movement were inspired by the thought that all men were worthy to hear the Word, worthy to be sought out and brought to salvation. It was this motive that took their preachers among the poor and neglected, even to criminals in the jails. As our ideal has been to bring all men to freedom, so their ideal was to bring all men to salvation.”
In the end it doesn’t matter if America is at its worst or at its best. In the power of the Holy Spirit we – God’s own people – will be the blessing God calls us to be.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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