‘Tis of Thee
But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. – Philippians 3:20-21
From the south and the north, we’ve been on this mad dash to the border. From the south, the violence became too much as people followed their neighbors who’d already begun the exodus. From the north, we’d heard of the “migrant caravans” and worked to join our neighbors as U.S. caravans for sanctuary at our southern border.
My country ‘tis of thee … as public schoolchildren here in the north, we were obligated to sing after pledging allegiance.
Sweet land of liberty … as we never defined who was covered under the ideals of the song. Militias, called on by an administration framing the southern exodus as a threat, called themselves to arms, gathering their weapons and their might.
Of thee we sing … as we gathered bus passes, quiet houses and sanctuaries, underground railroads of people willing to take on the lot of people lawfully crossing our borders with credible asylum claims, and we wondered:
Where is our citizenship? To whom do we pledge our first allegiance?
What is the color, the face of liberty?
Who gets to taste the sweetness of country?
Who gets to sing the song?
I have to believe that Paul knew this tension. He spoke of “humiliation” and “power.” And he made an ethical choice. Allegiances—no matter where—had to begin with Jesus.
My God, our God—to you we sing our highest praises. Help us to be worthy citizens of your realm on earth and in heaven. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.