God Bless America
Shalimar United Methodist Church is a wonderfully distinctive church when it comes to the 4th of July. We have an extremely patriotic congregation. There are reasons why we are so patriotic. Our church is located between two Air Force Bases as we seek to reach the people in our region for Jesus. The majority of our congregation is among active military families, retired military families, or civil service employment related to the military life. We know our community is deeply patriotic and as a church we offer a special patriotic service each year. This Sunday is our Patriotic Celebration for 2018.
It is my understanding the tradition of Shalimar hosting patriotic worship services has been around for at least two decades. In the early 2000 era I remember one day reading the Shalimar Beacon while I was Sr. Pastor of Cokesbury UMC in Pensacola. On this day, I noticed the attendance spike for 4th of July weekend at Shalimar! I wondered what in the world? This has to be a misprint to have this kind of attendance so near to the 4th of July! As I recall, I asked David Chunn about this anomaly in attendance and he told me it was true. He also said the patriotic services were some of the most anticipated all year.
As I have been able to witness personally these patriotic services in recent years, I am still pleasantly surprised at the enthusiasm for these services. In 2014, as I was still a few days from officially becoming the Lead Pastor of Shalimar, Karen and I were overjoyed with the service from the balcony. Each of the last three years have at times left me spellbound! Now, I find myself anticipating this special celebration each year.
We are so blessed to have our worship pastor, Dr. Brad Bradford, continue so masterfully this tradition of a patriotic service! Mary Jo Horner and Joel Lane provide such depth and strength as accompanists elevating this music for this special day! We are stirred each Sunday when Chancel Choir sings and they take it to another level for this Sunday! Our orchestra produces sounds that are ineffably glorious! Our narrators Mike and Marcia WrightReynolds help us transcend and hear a message beyond our time and space. As we enjoy the sights and sounds of this special worship, we will remember those behind the scenes in technical arts who enrich the quality in ways seen and unseen! As I was told by one of our worshippers during our Spring musical, what our worship, chancel choir, accompanists, narrators, and technical arts people do is not a musical it is an Extravaganza! I agree.
Let me also invite you to consider to “double dip” this weekend. Our 11:07 and Saturday Night services will have 4th of July observance and will offer sermons instead of the musical. Gavin Crowson will be bringing the message for the 11:07 service. Gavin is one of our very own students and will be sharing the message on his heart. If you can come on Saturday, Faith will be bringing a stand-alone message for our Break Free service. This weekend offers a great time to celebrate both attending a patriotic service and hearing a sermon as well.
Let us give thanks to our Lord this weekend as we come together for all He does for us, our congregation, community and nation! Be safe with any holiday plans. Let us remember this gift of independence that was given with a price for all of us in the United States of America! Let us pause and offer our prayers and remember the blessing of the hymn we sing so often, “GOD BLESS AMERICA!”