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How do you treat Independence Day in your Church?

A music pastor recently asked me the question, “How do you treat holidays like the 4th of July in your church?” Great question; here are some short thoughts:

  1. We can’t ignore that the 4th of July is the day of our country’s birth (especially when it falls on a Lord’s Day), but neither should we worship America rather than the Lord. Some churches’ Independence Day celebrations are bigger than Easter!
  2. It is certainly appropriate to thank the Lord for his goodness to us and to pray for our government leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), and a day set aside in our country for such a purpose provides a fitting time to focus on it. It’s really no different than focussing on the incarnation of our Savior on December 25th, a date used for such celebrations around the world.
  3. My personal practice, in order to not make too much of America, per se, but to direct attention to the Lord and his goodness, is to choose hymns and plan the service so that it could be transplanted to any country and used to celebrate the Lord’s goodness to them as well. In other words, the services I plan for around the 4th of July are never overtly “American.” They are services of thanksgiving to God and prayer for our country.
  4. Therefore, I have typically chosen hymns like “Now Thank We All Our God,” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” or even “God of our Fathers,” but you won’t hear songs like “America the Beautiful,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” or anything like that in our services.
  5. So we will acknowledge the day and thank the Lord for it, but you won’t hear a “Patriotic” sermon in our church. My pastor plans to continue his series in Hebrews!

These are all just suggestions of course, but be sure in your thanksgiving to God for our country that you are thanking God and not turning his day into a mere celebration of a country.

Do you have any other suggestions about how to plan a service around Independence Day that brings proper honor to Christ?

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.