America the Beautiful

It’s all about grace. Of all the stirring phrases of Katharine Lee Bates’ famous song, “America the Beautiful,” there is one that jumps up and shouts at me: “America, America, God shed His grace on Thee.”

The enduring value of the phenomenon in world history called America is the grace of God. It is more about “beautiful spacious skies” than the concrete jungle. It is “amber waves of grain” more so than supermarkets and malls (have you been in the Great Plains where you are surrounded by seas of wheat in the sun swaying back and forth to the music of the wind?). The grace shed is the “fruited plain” and the “purple mountain.”

But the grace of God shines through also when men and women have lived out kingdom values in earthly kingdoms. The “pilgrim feet” are beautiful when they beat a “thoroughfare for freedom.” We witness “heros proved” when people love “mercy more than life.” The “patriot dream” is valid when it “sees beyond the years” to a new, better, and redeemed time.

Katharine Lee Bates, writing “America the Beautiful” as she stood at the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado in 1893, also left us this challenge: God must “mend [our] every flaw.” And our souls must be confirmed by “self-control” and “liberty in law.”

So, on this Independence Day weekend, whether you live in America or not, please join in this prayer of thanksgiving, praise, repentance, and vision.

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