At church last night, during the worship portion of the service, the congregation was led in singing “God Bless America” in honor of Independence Day last Friday. As the band played and the backup singers belted out the tune, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t want to sing, and I wasn’t sure why. Maybe because I wasn’t in a baseball stadium or sitting on a picnic blanket at a fireworks show. I looked around (our church has seating “in the round” so you can see almost everybody) and noticed that probably 4 out of 5 people were also mute and uncomfortable. One guy next to me was even heckling a little bit. It seemed so cheesy, so pretentious. But then I thought, if I was in Africa, and a thousand Africans were singing and asking for God’s blessing on the beautiful country He had given them, the place they called home, would I find it cheesy and pretentious? No. I would probably be inspired and moved and maybe a little teary. In my generation where social justice is the new scene, it goes without saying that loving America is completely outdated. America is a beautiful land and I am so blessed to live in it. I felt like a moody, ungrateful teenager sitting there defiantly silent. So I started singing. The heckler next to me mentioned that America has a lot to do before they can ask for God’s blessing. Um, isn’t that totally outside of the Gospel of grace we say we live by? To think that as a country we must live up to a certain standard before we can experience God’s grace? Of course there are things we should do; like to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. But America is made up of a bunch of sinners like me, and I will still ask God to bless us because no matter what we do, that’s what He does: He blesses. So, even though it’s completely lame of me to say it: God bless America!