Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Pledge Allegiance …

Once upon a time, Vacation Bible School lasted a week, took place in the morning, and featured a highly structured opening assembly. During the assembly, the pianist would play a “stand up chord” and a “sit down chord” to signal us when we were to—well, to stand up or sit down.

Early in the ceremony, the pianist would play the stand up chord and we’d rise for the pledges. We said three. We’d pledge allegiance to the Christian flag. You may not know there is a Christian flag, much less a pledge to it, so, as a public service, here are the words to the pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands, one brotherhood uniting all mankind in service and love.

That’s the version I learned. Sometime during my childhood, our Southern Baptist VBS guide led us to stop saying “mankind.” “Good,” you might be thinking. “’Humankind’ is less sexist.” Well, no, that’s not why we changed it. In fact, we kept right on saying “brotherhood.” We changed “mankind” to “Christians.” I reckon we were more concerned about flirting with universalism than we were with engendering sexism.

We’d also pledge allegiance to the Bible. That pledge went like this:

I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's holy word, and will make it a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path, and hide its words in my heart that I may not sin against God.

Over the fifty or so years that I’ve lived since those days, I’ve encountered lots of adults who pledge allegiance to the Bible, but who seem to have little allegiance to—or even awareness of—what it says, and especially of what it means.

I’ve seen lots of people who will, with great passion bordering on glee, beat you up if you won’t join them in swearing allegiance to the Bible.

I’ve seen many people whose lives reflect the Savior who shows us what the words of the Bible mean but who won’t, out of their commitment as Christians, swear allegiance to Bible, vilified by people who swear such allegiance but whose lives exhibit little to none of the love and grace of Jesus.

We also pledged allegiance to United States flag.

I think I’ve heard some discussion lately about how some people respond to that flag and how other people respond to those who respond.

Those that have ears to hear, let them hear …

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