Thursday, September 11, 2008

God Bless America!

Today marks seven months since BLOGINTHENOW began...

...and, of course, difficult as it is to believe, today marks seven years since the September 11 attacks on the United States.

As I said in my sermon last night (Is Christ Divided?, Part II ), for a few days in America after 9/11/01, there were no democrats or republicans...conservatives or liberals...catholics or or one was one was one was latino...we were all simply broken-hearted Americans, united by a horrible tragedy that affected us all.

On this historic date, let us remember those in NY, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania who lost their lives, and also their families who are still dealing with the pain. But let us also remember to pray for the future of this great country...let us pray that we would all somehow find that unity again that we shared for a brief moment in time seven years ago...let us release our faith that that unity could be rediscovered, this time without tragedy, but through the movement and power of the Spirit of God.

Here is the first verse to one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I love the Star Spangled Banner, but I'm one of those who would vote to have this awesome hymn become our national anthem.

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!


Son of Zadok said...

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

The Cloud of Unknowing said...

The Loss of Self continued...

This brings us to the question of the relationship of the true self to the all. The author writes that there is a total union ("He is your being") and yet it is not total because I am not God's being ("You are not his"). A strict Thomist of the fourteenth century, he would probably have explained this according to the Platonic notion of ideas in the mind of God - that creation exists from eternity in his mind, so that there is a total unity side by side with variety. To experience this would be "chaste and perfect love" in which one is united with God "blindly"; that is to say, without thoughts or feelings or images of any kind, experiencing oneself in God and through God. St. John of the Cross seems to be getting at this when he says that at first we experience the Creator through his creatures, but at the summit we experience creatures through the Creator.
Yet I myself believe that this metaphysical is less meaningful to modern man than the dynamic approach of Teilhard de Chardin. This is more biblical, giving centrality to the risen Christ Omega as well as to the resurrection of all men. It sees the ultimate eschatological union as a total indwelling of God in man and man in God and all in Christ going to the Father in accordance with the words of Jesus in John 17. As for the paradox that all is one and not one, Teilhard answers with a principle that runs through all his work: in the realm of personality, union differentiates. When I am most united with God, I am most myself . Here union is clearly distinguished from annihilating absorption: it is in a union with the other that I find my true self. Incredible paradox? Yet we explain the Trinity in some such way. And does not the principle that union differentiates apply also to human unions and interpersonal relationships? In the deepest and most loving union with another, far from losing ourselves we discover our deepest selves at the core of our being. If this is true of human relationships, it must also apply to the most intimate union of all: that of Yaweh with his people.

Nothing To Lose said...

God bless America,
Land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above;

From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home, sweet home.
God bless America,
My home, sweet home

Nothing To Lose said...

My country,' tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
land where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrims' pride,
from every mountainside let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
land of the noble free, thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
thy woods and templed hills;
my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
and ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song;
let mortal tongues awake;
let all that breathe partake;
let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

Our fathers' God, to thee,
author of liberty, to thee we sing;
long may our land be bright
with freedom's holy light;
protect us by thy might, great God, our King

Nothing To Lose said...

Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind

Georgia, Georgia, a song of you
Comes as sweet and clean
As moonlight through the pines

Other arms reach ot to me
Other eyes smile tenderly

Still in peaceful dreams I see
The roads leads back to you

Georgia, Georgia, no peace I find
Just and old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind

Night Owl said...

beautiful words -
incredible pictures -
7 covers of America, the Beautiful in honor of 7 years -


Nothing To Lose said...

And God Bless Momma 'n nem!

Izumi/JOY said...

O beautiful for spacious skies,

(Bow down and worship Him... worship Him, oh worship Him)

For amber waves of grain,

(Bow down and worship Him)

For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain,

(Enter in, oh enter in)

America! America!

(Consuming fire, sweet perfume)

God shed His grace on thee

(His awesome presence fills this room. This is holy ground...)

And crown thy good with brotherhood

(So come and bow down)

From sea to shining sea!

(Come and bow down, bow down... come and bow down.)

Izumi/JOY said...

Rosie Lemmon said...

AMERICA, how I adore

Your mountain peaks

Your sandy shores

Your WELCOME mats

Your many hats

Your allspice apple pie and core

AMERICA, let's celebrate

Your tawny fields

Your golden gates

With lemonade on patios

Fireworks ablaze

Your heartland glows

AMERICA, you are delicious

With royal courts of food auspicious

Burgers, tacos, pizzas, gyros,

Wontons, corn cobs butter smeared - oh!

Fin, fowl and beast in pits like lava

Molten cups of Starbucks java

Don't forget the cones of waffle

Hungry yet? Hey, try falafel!

AMERICA, you make me sigh

Through windshield wiper lullabies

Your dirt trails beckon to tire swing creeks

I reckon you're cotton candy sweet

In you, I see magnolia blossoms

And when comes fall, there's pumpkin tossin'

Season changes and winter heralds

Open ranges, alabaster apparel

Next, springs crepe of fresh bluebonnets

Saluting sky with new love sonnets

AMERICA, your glory never fades

We honor you with grand parades

United, we command your praise

And with respect, our pennants raise

How blessed, this precious liberty

Amazing grace on bended knees

Anonymous said...

God Bless America, this land that I LOVE. Let us remember all the Moms, Dads, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, grandmas, grandpas, police men, fire men, cooks, cleaners, ceo's,.. ALL the people from the 95 different nationalities who lost their precious lives on this day that changed the way we look at our world and the brethren who encompass it.

Anonymous said...

We have come so far in 7 years. Our country has been safe and secure. On Sept. 12, 2001 you probably would not have thought so. Give credit to those who have lead our nation that this is a global issue that has been dealt with in keeping us safe. Please remember that there are so many things that don't make the 24 hour headlines that go on to secure the freedom we have, the freedom most of us don't think twice about. The freedom we have to be Democrat, Republican, Independent, Non-denominational, Catholic, Baptist, Universalist, straight, gay- you get the point.


G8TRGRL said...

7 years, 7 pictures, 7 songs...

Love it, and love THIS COUNTRY!

I posted this late last night, if you missed it...

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Those words, those pictures...I'm as emotional today as I was on that day, and as proud to be an American as I've ever been! Thanks Bishop.

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

G8trgrl, the number of songs was obviously intentional, but I hadn't realized that there were 7 pictures until you acknowledged it. I was just putting them together for the song.

Thanks. And thanks to all of you who have been a part of this community for these 7 months.

Love you all...

G8TRGRL said...

Please fly a flag today! Remember the pride you felt!

Anonymous said...


We will never forget.

karl cobos said...

Amen! Bishop, and in agreement.

I also would like to nominate you to throw out the first pitch, oh yeah, and for President, too... now let's play ball!

In unity,
Karl Cobos

karl cobos said...

The name of the Lord is a STRONG TOWER; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10 (from a Year In The Now)

I speak peace, comfort, and unity to the body of the U.S., and the Lord's protection over us and the troops abroad..."by my Spirit says the Lord"

Love to all!-Karl

Anonymous said...

September 11


"The name of the Lord is a STRONG TOWER; the righteous run to it and are safe." (Proverbs 18:10)

Today I will live in the now! I will live in the now because I have the confident assurance that God is my refuge and strength – a very present help in time of trouble! His name is my fortress and protection . . . I will not fear . . . what can man do to me? I dwell in the secret place of the Most High and, therefore, I remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty today, knowing that no foe can withstand Him! He has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Today I will walk in perfect peace – the peace produced by possessing the promise that God is personally watching over His Word to perform it in my behalf – preserving and protecting me in the private pavilion of the power of His name!

Today I will boldly decree and declare that no weapon formed against me can prosper, and that every tongue that rises against me today will be shown to be in the wrong (Isaiah 54:17)!

Today I will be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might – strengthened with might by His spirit in the inner man. The joy of the Lord is my strength. The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life — of whom then shall I be afraid? Let the weak say I am strong (Joel 3:10), so in all of my weaknesses today, I say that God is my strength, and I am strong in Him!

Today I will rejoice in my righteousness, for the righteous run into God's tower and find real safety.

Today I will be kept free from all harm – spiritually, emotionally and physically. The angel of the Lord encamps around me – the angels bear me up in their hands, so that I do not injure my foot (my path of destiny) against a stone (of crisis, calamity or consequences of the curse).

Today I will enjoy the view from atop the strong tower of the Lord, and today I will live in the now!

Anonymous said...

Going on the seven

4.New York

America stands for Freedom & Liberty
New York The gateway for foreigners.
Georgia (CITN) the gateway to the nations.
This country has much to offer.
Respect what you have.
Pray for those who have given and are giving it all for our freedom

1.Army -Army Reserves
2.Army National Guard
3.Navy - Navy Reserves
4.Marines - Marine Reserves
5.U.S. Air Force
6.Air National Guard
7.Coast Guard

America God Shed His Grace On Thee
And Crown Thy Good With Brotherhood
From Sea to Shining Sea

Anonymous said...


Your poem is marvelous.

I agree that America is delicious and it humbles me to think of the precious liberty won by those past and present whose bent knees and bowed backs produced the fruit enjoyed by the many of us who have reaped what others toiled for.

My prayer is that my memory of this day's events sevens years ago will keep my mind clear from the clouds of complacency and contemptuous consumption.

There is still much to be done in this city.


Larry Usher said...

If the world would all "walk on water"(live by faith & love), we would all be connected by the "seven seas"...think about it!

Beautiful pics & posts...



peacemaker said...

I remember watching in paralyzed horror as the impenetrable was penetrated and the indestructible destroyed.
I remember the helplessness I experienced as I witnessed hundreds of my fellow countrymen/women run; dazed, bloody, and ashen, away from the terror as billowing white clouds of dust and debris relentlessly overtook them.
I remember being in denial as the reports of losses grew.
I remember not even having words to say or pray.
I remember my tears.
I remember standing with my very close friends, gazing at the flag draped center of our military power as DC's finest and military personnel struggled to restore a sense of security.
I remember the safety I felt just being in the company of my friends.
I remember the unprecedented unity, friendship, and help our great country experienced and recieved within and without her borders.
I remember...
And I'll never forget.

God Bless America

Nothing To Lose said...

I have been reading the posts off and on today, and listening to the radio, and hearing clips of that horrible day.

And I must say, that I still want to go fight to protect my country,
my family, and my friends.

God Bless our military as they keep us safe and free.

"elle" said...

Had one of those 'life is sweet' moments last night. You know... the little seemingly insignificant moments that remind us of the mysteries and whimsies of the universe... the moments that bring just a little sparkle of joy for no good reason.

I was preparing dinner... 'Aunt Sarah's Flank Steak.' That's just the name of the recipe; no Aunt Sarah in my ancestry that I'm aware of :) Wonderful italian dish with onions, tomatoes, wine, seasoning and, of course, flank steak... all over linguini. I clipped some fresh parsley and basil from my herb pots on the deck, and brought them in to rinse. Parsley was the first to face the chopping block. Then came basil, which is much easier if you stack, roll and chop into nice little ribbons. As I was stacking, I pulled out this somewhat small, lovely green leaf which would've been rather easy to miss. But there before my eyes was this beautiful, fragrant basil leaf in the shape of a perfect heart <3 Strange, indeed, as basil is not heart-shaped. I smiled, and immediately thought about what all of the great chefs say... that love is the most important ingredient in cooking :) Then my mind reflected on a Rosie Lemmon poem. I swear to God (if I'm allowed to do that)! "Sweet Whimsies." It's on The Flow website.

Ironic, Rosie, that one of your poems came to mind last night, and you had another beautiful one for us today!
And BTW, I don't think basil resents its name ;}

A wonderful day to you all!

Anonymous said...

God bless America!

I remember September 11, 2001 very vividly. About three weeks earlier, Henry and Leslie had flown home to Conyers from Frankfurt, Germany. I was left in Germany when this terrible tragedy took place. I was devastated that anyone could do such a horrible thing to innocent people just because of a different belief system. I couldn't imagine such hatred. I praised God that my family had flown safely home.

As Americans in Germany, both military and civilians, we had to be much more aware of our surroundings and went through tight security screenings after
Sept. 11. It seemed that there was an all out war on Americans and many groups used this incident as an opportunity to protest Americans, and riot outside the gates of military facilities.

Friends of ours were finishing their tour and were due to fly out on Sept 11 and could not. They left a few days later on a chartered militray flight instead of a commerical flight. We were all reminded that our lives are in God's hands.

How innocently and unknowlingly these people at the Pentagon, in the Twin towers and on these flights went about their usual routine, not knowing that that day would be their last in this world.

I knew one of the ladies killed at the Pentagon because she had left our office in Europe and began working for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel at the Pentagon. Both she and the General she worked for were killed. It reminds us all that every breath we take is God-given. We should appreciate every moment, all the ups and downs and each experience.

When we have traveled or lived overseas, I have always enjoyed the experience, but have never forgotten that I'm an American. There is nothing like hearing the
National Anthem played in the Post movie theater before the start of a movie when you're in a foreign country.

After spending days, weeks,months or even years in a foreign country, there is nothing more peaceful and satisfying than safely landing on American soil! I don't care what issues, and problems we have in America, it is still the absolute best country in the world!

Pastor Lou

Mystic said...

God bless us...ALL.

tracy said...

Thanks everyone for your beautiful posts. Thank you Bishop for the much needed walk down memory lane. We are a blessed people.

Anonymous said...

Seven years ago, the world cried with America and stood with her in solidarity. Oh, how times have changed. God save the world from futher harm.

Bless the songwriters. You all got me singing today.


Your words reminded me of this powerful poem by Suheir Hammad.

*Viewer beware: profanity may offend the faint of heart.*

What other words can I add? Poetry and song are universal and touch us in ways mere prose cannot. There is still stupefying pain in such a great loss, especially when unjustly doubled by our fallen brothers and sisters at arms.

What have I done this day to promote brotherhood?



Rosie said...

Bish, P. Debye & beloved Universe: Peace!

Thank you, JB. The first thought that came to mind after reading your note was, "One day at a time, sweet Jesus."

Thank you, Elle. The recipe sounds delicious. (Guessing Bish will forgive a tomato reference.) Today. :)

OK... it's just all of us, here. So... a little background re: "Sweet Whimsies", basil.

My pateral grandmother, (Pearl Daisy) remarried, years after my grandfather passed away. Her husband's name was Basil.

As a child, I rarely heard his name spoken affectionately. Always wondered how I could affect that.

Ray M said...

Psalm 91 1: He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

A-America the beautiful
M-Majestic glory
E-Everyone standing united
C-Christ is good
A-Amazing grace

God Bless America!

Please pray for the men and women in the armed forces and all who were effected and still are effected by the senseless acts of the 911 terrorist attacks.

Peace to you all and joy to the world.

Ray M.

Anonymous said...

erik, where you at?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to your resource for everything Marine Corps. Check out all our great Marine Corps Poems and all our other USMC stories. Semper Fi Sgt Grit

Online Catalog - Sgt Grit Home - Web Services

Sgt Grit Home
Online Catalog
Free Catalog
Free Newsletter
Web Services
Site Map
About Sgt Grit
Contact Us

Sgt Grit
7100 SW 44th St.
OKC, OK 73179

A Soldiers PoemTHE PATRIOT
By: Sergeant Aaron M. Gilbert
The patriot the soldier,
The young and the old,
Protect our great country.
They stand to be bold.

Some protest in spite,
Some riot in rage,
Some scream "Peace and not war!"
From the safety of their cage.

But we who stand up
For freedom to reign,
Give all that we have,
And expect nothing to gain.

But the freedom we win,
We give without fail.
No crying or bitching,
For WE have prevailed.

We are the soldiers,
Who give up our lives,
Leave all that we know,
To pay the ultimate price.

Freedom is not free,
It come with it's toll,
And some never return,
And leave their stories untold.

I acknowledge the protest,
The riots, the rage,
And the ones given their freedom
Without having to pay.

But let it be known,
Come rain, sleet or hail,
The Marines are on call,
To fight and die for your betrayal.

Dedicated to the Patriot, the soldier, and especially to those who have spit upon the graves of MY FRIENDS who have died in this war. May God have mercy on your souls.


April 22, 2003
Sergeant Aaron M. Gilbert
United States Marine Corps
Operation Iraqi Freedom
©2003 Aaron M. Gilbert

Anonymous said...

God Bless the USA
Words and Music by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife,
I'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away.

I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.
From the lakes of Minnesota to the hills of Tennessee,
Across the plains of Texas from sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston and New York to L.A.,
There's pride in every American heart and it's time we stand and say ...

I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sgt. Gilbert (or the blogger promoting his patriotic propaganda),

Please explain to me how "WE have prevailed." What precisely has been won? Like you, I have lost friends in this. It is not spite and rage, but the dark and bloody reality of war, a sense of history, and the painful empathy of human compassion that make us "cry peace".

I believe you have it dead wrong: man is born free. It is the institutions, the authorities, the organizations that seek to rob us of this freedom. And I'm afraid that you are a victim of one of the worst.

Recall the story of Adam and Eve. God made man free to choose his own path. There are consequences for our actions, but no price for a God-given right.


Son of Zadok said...

Sgt. Aaron Gilbert,

To answer your country's call, dutifully fighting for freedom, with all your hopes and best intentions behind you, is a brave and noble deed. Mighty warriors dressed for battle. Sometimes God takes humanity through the path of the hero and the villain. Always carry the virtue and honor with you that you so faithfully defended. We will always be grateful to you. May we hold all brothers everywhere in prayer throughout this age. And together, when we can lay all these guns down; the day the Lord alone will set aside in doing so. May we then, in perfectly completed love, pick up all the full bonds of reconciliation among each other, and all those who have been set against us. Until that day arrives, may the peace of God reign in you heart, and the joy of the Lord be you strength.

clark kent said...

A More Perfect Union...

Anonymous said...

I can understand Sgt. Gilbert's expression of frustration through the use of poetry. There was one similar that I remember as being titled 'the broken soldier' but can not find it on google. It was from the post Viet Nam error of a dark moment when our society rejected its common soldier doing their job. There is very little about our current situation that relates to that one.

I am more inclined to agree with anon @ 5:22 am on this one except that it must be said our response to the 9-11 attacks were the same as any reasonable person would do in reaction of a clear and present danger to their survival.

There is a root of bitterness growing though around the obvious monetary gains of those invested in the war machine. For the most part the common soldier is left out of that loop too.

Yes there is much healing that is needed for all of us from the greedy to the grunt and all that have allowed their souls to be victimized as well.

The vexing of my soul over the apparent mistreatment of the common worker/soldier is quieted by the understanding that every promise from God is yes and amen.

There is a just reward for all and it is not what most people think it is. For now the best that any of us can do is to love God with all our heart, where truth dwells and spirit visits and to love our fellowhumans with the same ideals for a quality life that we desire for ourselves.


Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Well said...

Thanks, everyone, and God bless America!