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Goshen College, National Anthem: A sermon on Philippians 2:5-11

March 29th, 2010 by isaac · 2 Comments

There has been a lot on controversy around the recent decision of Goshen College (a Mennonite university in Indiana) to play the national anthem before athletic events. The college has never played the anthem on campus because of the song’s praise of violence (“bombs bursting in air,” etc.). So, needless to say, due to the decision to play the song on campus, many are questioning Goshen’s enduring roots in the peace tradition of the Mennonite church.

They played the national anthem for the first time in the school’s history this past Tuesday at a baseball game. And I found a way to preach about the event for Palm Sunday. Here’s a passage from my sermon:

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” The rejected Jesus is the chief cornerstone of a new society that welcomes those on the underside, those that the world considers ungrateful traitors, like Jesus. This new society shows hospitality to the social waste of the world, the alienated and rejected: those who are in the world, but not really of the world because they aren’t card-carrying members of society, they are unnecessary to the world’s progress.

Jesus has invited us to build a new society—the kingdom of God—that welcomes the unwelcomed, that takes the people rejected by the builders of this world and includes them as chief cornerstones in a new community, the community of Jesus, the community of the rejected One, the community of the cross.

So, to get back to Goshen… Let me leave you with two questions for our time of discussion and discernment. How would playing the national anthem help us to welcome the people rejected by our world? How would it help any Christian community be a people who witness to the cross of Christ, which is what it means to welcome God’s love in the world?

For the rest of it, follow this link to my church website: “In the world”

Tags: sermons · war

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Stephanie Fortino // Apr 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Are you serious? The National Athem is our country, it is our history, our present and our future,.and because of the phrase, bombs bursting in air, it is not played???? Give me a break, and grow up. With all of the crap that is on tv that is a lot worse than bombs bursting in air, that we just allow by watching, this concept of not playing out NATIONAL ATHEM is outrageous. All of our veterens must be sick, and the dead ones must be turning in their graves. I know this would have made my father a Korean war vetwould be outraged.
    What has this country come to, when we are so worried about being politically correct, not upseting our neighbor, not rocking the boat, that we have forgotten our morals, values, intregrity, and the family concept. God must be weeping.

  • 2 isaac // Apr 11, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Hi Stephanie. Thanks for reading my sermon and for caring enough to offer your disagreement.

    I am interested in the way you frame your concern regarding the national anthem at Goshen in terms of “political correctness.” I would say that the reason why Goshen changed their tradition of not playing the national anthem was due to political correctness. In their context in Indiana, the Mennonite college was worried about fitting into their surrounding political culture. In order to be correct according to the political values of their neighbors, they decided to start playing the national anthem. They were tired of upsetting their neighbors and of rocking the boat. I would argue that the national anthem at Goshen College is a result of being, as you put it, “so worried about being politically correct.”