Pastor Bruening's Message
Spending most of my life on the East
Coast had given me the opportunity to observe and be deeply moved by
events from our history:
Sunday afternoon visit to St John’s Church in Richmond, VA. There
was a reenactment of the Second Virginia Convention on March 20,
1775. An actor captured the powerful moment when, representing
Patrick Henry, he proclaimed in the final words of his speech,
“Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for
me, give me liberty or give me death!”
visit to Yorktown, VA. I was able to stand at Redoubt #10 and
picture American troops storming the fortification and breaking the
British line of defense on October 14, 1781, allowing the American
and French troops to completely surround the British forced leading
to the surrender on October 17, bringing an end to the Revolutionary
visit to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, MD. I heard the story of how
Francis Scott Key was led to write the words of our national anthem,
“The Star Spangled Banner.” He had been captured and was aboard a
British ship bombarding Fort McHenry. On September 14, 1814 after
hours of bombardment he looked at the Fort and saw the American flag
still standing. There is a very moving video that leads to the
showing of that flag while the national anthem is played.
This next moment for me was not tied into any significant event in
history. It was simply a very moving experience for me.
When I was a seminary student, another student and I flew to Europe
out of what had just been renamed John F Kennedy Airport. Because
the winds were blowing from east to west, which is somewhat unusual,
we had to fly west of JFK and then circle back to the airport which
meant we flew over the New York harbor and I looked down and saw the
Statues of Liberty there, tears welled up in my eyes as I thought
about coming home to my country.
Having taking you on this tour of experiences I have had, I end with
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain.
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee.
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress.
A thoroughfare of freedom beat,
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
In His Service,