I sometimes tire of hearing talk about being “one nation under God” in a nation whose leaders want to exclude and divide. In these difficult days, our President has signed an executive order to ban persons from several countries from entering our country. Protesters object in the streets and at airports throughout the country, seeking to hold fast to the promise represented by the Statue of Liberty. We must not forget that Lady Liberty stands in New York harbor lifting her light to all the world. And on a plaque at her base, these words are inscribed:
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Bishop Steven Charleston writes what it means to be one nation under God. He says that ours is a holy calling, compassionate to all who seek refuge, caring for those who are poor, protecting those among us who are most vulnerable. These are his words:
One nation under God. What would that be like? I think any nation striving to live such a holy calling would be compassionate to all those in need, caring for the poor, healing the sick, protecting the most vulnerable. It would seek wisdom, supporting its schools and teachers. It would defend itself and help its friends, but never cease striving for peace. It would turn from greed and honor God’s creation. It would respect the dignity of every citizen and strive for reconciliation, finding unity in diversity, strength in mercy, authority in justice not promised but practiced.
– Steven Charleston
Dignity, diversity, strength, mercy, justice, compassion . . . May these words always define us as a nation. May God rebuke the leaders who seek to obliterate these values. And may God touch the hearts of our leaders, urgently summoning them to help make us truly one nation under God.