I am not a morning person. But I am a Jesus person. And these two have been at odds since I moved into my sweet little apartment in Everett five months ago.
Every morning the national anthem blasts into my home from the military base at the base of the steep hill that provides my extravagant view of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountain Range.
Every morning I sit at my window with that hyperbolically glorious view to write liturgical prayers for morning and evening toward the coming of God's universal shalom with special attention to this peninsula called North Everett - nestled between the Puget Sound and the Snohomish River - that I get to live on.
Every morning, their rhetoric has competed.
Ok, side note/explanatory tangent/clarification:
This is not to say that I am against patriotism or America.
I, personally, am a pacifist so military is always a hard one for me to swallow. But I'm not a proselytizing pacifist; I don't think less of those who think differently. And flowing out of my pacifism, I think we ought to extend love, grace, support, and welcome home to those who have gone out in service of military.
The competing rhetoric of morning prayers and national anthems is not a disregard for my country. The competing rhetoric is in what comes first and what comes second (or third or fourth or tenth honestly).
The competing rhetoric comes in that God's Commonwealth of liberating love and justice is my truest and eternal home. And it is a true and eternal home for anyone who wishes to become a citizen in it's boundless boundaries. There are no undocumented immigrants here. No one is here "illegally." No one is other or foreign. The truth is, the moment any refugee seeks refuge here, we are instantly called citizens - and even called "friend" by our servant-leader.
So the competition is not in some diminished respect of the country that is my home. The competition is in that I have a hierarchy of allegiances and my allegiance to God's boarderless Kingdom comes infinitely before any allegiance to America. And yet the American anthem was the first thing I was hearing every morning. It was the formative tune stuck in my head throughout the day. Thus, any national anthem turned wake-up-call for any country other than this mysterious global country would be in competition with the work of crafting a spiritual wake-up-call to friend, citizens, and neighbors in God's Commonwealth of Love and Justice.
And every morning, I have sat in this unhappy cacophony and inner turmoil of what comes first when my heart has always known what comes first.
I woke up early enough to let these prayer stand on their own and complete five of them before the bugle sounded. I was caught in the competing invitations to allegiance until today when I woke up early enough to pledge an inner allegiance to God's kingdom of love and justice before the invitation to a lesser allegiance.
And as I typed the last word, the bugle began and I remembered that I am first a co-heir to the Kingdom - that provides true liberty and justice for everyone (and every living thing) who might possibly fall under the banner of "all" - before I am a member of a broken country where "all" does not really mean "all." Though we seem to be trying to stumble toward "all" through endless generations of struggle. We're not there. We often take one step forward and two back, missing the trail markers that lead to liberty and justice and finding ourselves lost and stranded in some place where the language of liberty and justice for all seems like a foreign tongue. We do try and we do want to be there. But we're not there.
But God is there. God invented there. And so I follow God first and country somewhere else down that list of people and things I follow. And so I pledge allegiance to God's commonwealth of love and justice first and to a flag somewhere much further down that list of places my allegiances are pledged to. And so I wake up early and write prayers first and listen to America's song later.
I am not a morning person. But I am a Jesus person. So, I will get up early enough to sing anthems to God's liberating love and justice before an anthem to a tattered flag begins.