Patriotic Holidays

Patriotic Holidays

Patriotic Holidays

Scattered throughout the pages of most North American calendars is a sprinkling of days classified as patriotic holidays. Most notable, perhaps, are American Independence Day and Canada Day. On these days, citizens express their love and loyalty to their country in celebrations. Together, they salute the flag, sing the national anthem, and watch displays of fireworks.

[The principles here could easily apply to national days throughout the world—from China to Indonesia, from France to Germany, from Argentina to Ghana. Please seek to apply the points raised to your own national situation.]

But patriots are not the only residents of a country. To foreigners the festivities of the patriots are a remove reality of little importance. Why? Being citizens of another country, they plan to stay only temporarily. Stronger to them than a feeling of oneness with the citizens of the country where they sojourn are the ties to others, who like them, are loyal citizens of their foreign government.

Who are these foreigners? Are they people of other nationalities? Perhaps. But in our consideration here, we are referring to the strangers and pilgrims who are citizens of a kingdom not of this world. Indeed they are grateful for the blessings of peace and freedom. But their “conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also [they] look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, KJV). They are members one of another, representing to the world the everlasting kingdom. Their inheritance, not of corruptible substance, is reserved in heaven for them.

We, the children of God, are these foreigners in this world. The weapons of our warfare are not guns and bombs; the glory of our victories is not firepower [2 Corinthians 10:3-5]. Following Christ’s commands, we refuse to join the armies of our nation to fight with these carnal weapons. We should therefore view it inconsistent to join the ranks of patriots or go out of our way to watch fireworks in celebration of the sounds and “glory” of war.

On Memorial Day and Remembrance Day, patriots decorate with flowers and flags the graves of those who served the armed forces of the country. But our heroes are not soldiers fallen on the fields of battle. Instead, we worship the Captain of our salvation. By His death He has overcome the most dreadful enemy of His kingdom. Moreover, His tomb is empty! We do not bring flowers to His grave, but the greatest honor we can give Him is presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice.

The ensign of Christ’s kingdom is His cross, not a cloth flag. We cannot pledge our loyalty to both. “But God forbid [KJV, actually “may it never be”] that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).

And so, fellow pilgrims, let us watch the sky, not for the fading brilliance of fireworks, but for the appearing of Christ’s eternal glory. Let us tune our ears, not for the boom of cannons, but for the sound of His trumpet. For very shortly, we will be going home!

Mark Baltozer, Gretna, Manitoba

(The Eastern Mennonite Testimony, June 2018, p. 20)


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