O God of all the nations

allnationsThis is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine. This is my home, the country where my heart is; Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine. But other hearts in other lands are beating, With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.”  – a portion of This Is My Song, a 1934 hymn written by Lloyd Stone (1912-1993) using the Finlandia Hymn melody composed by Jean Sibelius

We’ve sung “This Is My Song” a few times in recent months at White Plains Presbyterian Church.  It’s one of my favorites and is found in the Blue Presbyterian Hymnal as well as the new Glory to God Presbyterian Hymnal.  I thought of it again as I read the guest-post from Rev. Lindsay Borden that follows and describes the Day of Nations celebrated last month up in Hughsonville.  I was thinking it would be appropriate to write a new verse to recognize all people who deeply hold more than one nation in their hearts, whose hopes and dreams bridge oceans and many, many miles of land. The United States is in itself a country of so many nations, look and see:

“On Saturday, September 14, Iglesia Cristiana el Sembrador, in residence at the Hughsonville Presbyterian Church, celebrated its first Day of Nations since moving into their new church home. It was a day for the El Sembrador (which means “The Sower” in Spanish) community to celebrate the diversity of its own congregation – for its members were born in an array of countries, including Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, USA, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico. All those nations were represented by decorated booths offering food from each country, with everyone dressed in colorful costumes of their nation – everything from ornately embroidered dresses to fútbol (soccer in the USA) jerseys.

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A highlight of the afternoon was the Parade of Nations, with costumed participants parading through the newly paved (thanks to el Sembrador!) parking lot with their country’s flags, as we all clapped and waved and heard each country’s national anthem. The final marchers, carrying the Christian flag, represented the City of God of which we are all citizens.

Prizes were given for the best food and costumes and decoration – and Committee on Representation rep Carla Lesh and I were honored to serve as judges (sampling food from over ten nations was a delicious but somewhat intimidating task!). There was singing and dancing, and a joyful atmosphere that had cars slowing on Route 9D. The children of the church were everywhere – and they more than anything else represent the new life God had brought to the Hughsonville Church and to its community. We are so very thankful to and for these new partners in ministry.

One of the most meaningful parts of the program was a poem written and read by Isabela Leon, a member of the Iglesia Cristiana youth group, which she graciously allowed me to share. It’s called “Nations.”

Nations. In many ways we are different.                                                                             Ask the world to tell us our differences,                                                                                     It will in a heartbeat;                                                                                                                 Location, language, geography, economy, and so on.                                                       But ask it about our similarities,                                                                                             And it stays silent                                                                                                                             Not a word to be said,                                                                                                                 Just a confused look as it ponders the question.                                                                   As in silence without a reply                                                                                                         We lean over borders and reach across oceans                                                                 To hold hands with each other                                                                                                   To become one with our greatest relation:                                                                       Our Lord; Jesus Christ,                                                                                                                   With whom we are all one in.

Isabela calls it a poem. I call it a prayer. May it be so!”

~ Rev. Lindsay Borden, on behalf of the Hughsonville Presbyterian Church

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