I still remember seeing her for the first time. I was craning my neck while looking down from my window seat as we approached the airport. She stood motionless in her green patina reaching out her torch to enlighten the world. She moved something deep within me. She came from France. I came from Germany. We both were immigrants.
When I moved to the United States over thirty years ago to live with my American husband, I was taken aback not only by this larger than life symbol standing at the port but by the largeness of the freedom she represented. I had not experienced such openness and hospitality, such patriotism and devotion to the concept of freedom in people who believed in it. Germans didn’t salute flags or were proud of their history. To me, there was hardly a difference between raising one’s hand to place it over the heart and raise it upward toward an evil flag. Patriotism scared me at first. I hadn’t been taught to love a country. My own history books were full of warnings against such foolishness and falling prey to propaganda.
Slowly over the years I was educated, not by books but by a people. I remember calls I made back home, telling about the nice people I met everywhere, strangers and family alike. I learned that freedom and kindness were tightly knit together in the hearts of those who believed in it.
After many years of experiencing the kindness of the American people, and after I came to Jesus through them, I wanted to make my own commitment. I wanted the right to vote for what I had come to believe. It required for me to make a choice, to give up my passport and submit to the covering of a much different government. On December 16, 2004, I entered a courtroom and gave an oath to “absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen”. I have never regretted the decision.
While Liberty still holds out her torch to enlighten the world, I pray we remember that the greatest light and Freedom is in Christ and living out His kindness is a command to those who know Him.
“Lord, help us who know you, to view our flag as a symbol of your kindness and the freedom you have given us. May we always be driven out of love for our neighbors and desire freedom for all people. Give us the strength to use our freedom to live out Christ’s love.”
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”