With July 4th coming up soon in the USA, what are those of you in this country doing in your worship services? Personally, I struggle with utilizing songs during the regular worship set that are not effective for the congregation to participate and worship God... not just to sing about our country... or regarding other holidays, singing about a father/mother, Christmas in general, etc.
Anyway, what songs have you found to work well for patriotic services? Of course, this would apply to other countries as well, just on different dates. :)
I tend to stay away from "patriotic" songs anyway because I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of the church throwing its seal of approval in that direction, especially currently... I heard that the US government might be changing the policy on allowing churches to get political without losing their tax status, in which case I might just have to pull out that "Bill Clinton - Cure for the Blues" t-shirt now and then.
And, yeah, I realize that some people on here will disagree with my personal politics, and that some of us might respond by wearing the red hats... let's just keep this theoretical, okay?
For kinda the same reason, I tend to avoid all these songs about "we're going to recapture this city for God" or "we need to make this a Christian nation again." I'm not comfortable with the songs of the church endorsing that sort of activity...
For Father's Day, I did deliberately pick out mostly songs that refer to God as "Father" or "King" or "He." First time I've done that, but I wasn't sure the church was planning to do anything for Father's Day (one week before, they decided to collect photos and run a slide show during the offertory song). And I've already mentioned that Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" is now a tradition for Mother's Day. Plus I picked all those gendered songs for Father's Day just to give our pastor a little ribbing, and then she was away at annual conference anyway...
I will confess that, in terms of the traditional service, I do like that hymn "This Is My Song," which is patriotic, but recognizes that "other hearts in other lands are beating / with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine."
You can't serve 2 masters, so it's probably good to know which one you want to follow and select songs accordingly.
Even before seeing the comments from Charles and Toni, I was thinking along these lines. Earlier this evening, I was leading a discussion group in considering the topic of heaven and one of the passages we looked at was Php 3:20 ("our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" - NASB).
Mind you, I don't recall any of the churches I've been in going for patriotism in big way. In part, this is probably a reflection of involvement in urban churches which welcome congregations of diverse ethnic backgrounds. We focus more on what or, rather, who brings us together rather than on where we come from.
If I had to pick a patriotic song to sing the UK, I'd probably go for "Jerusalem". It is just the kind of stirring tune and grandiose word to delight those who uncritically declare themselves patriots. Meanwhile, I've enjoyed it much more since I realised the implied answer to the question about whether Jesus once walked the green and pleasant hills of England is no, he didn't. If I read it right, it is actually a revolutionary song with verse 2 calling for action to bring a the nation not back to satanic mills but forward into the kingdom. It is still too humanocentric for me to really cherish it as a worship song but I think could work if followed up with something emphasising how our best efforts are still just unworthy rags - say, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross".
In a slightly less reactionary mode, I suspect that being British (OK, ich bin Osterreicher, but effectively British) we don't do the patriotism thing and for us there is no challenge to choose between faith and state. For some other nationalities I suspect faith and state are tightly intertwined (just like it used to be here, when we burned people at the stake) and the choice is far less obvious.
It would appear we're all pretty much on the same page. :) Leave the worship for what it is intended for... worship. I think having a special song can be effective to recognize the special day, but without taking away from the congregational worship experience.
I can agree with you , on special days you can remember by a song, but that's all. The main reason you are there is for God not for man. Here in Australia we don't have issues with this so much as we tend to keep it separate and not waving the flag all the time, like some other countries feel they have too / want too. Each to their own I guess. It is getting hard enough to worship freely anyway, without the state getting too much control ( but that's another topic).