Reflections on our First Canada Day

Today is our first Canada Day. It works well that it's the same week as the 4th of July--we could get a double-dose of fireworks if we so desired. We didn't--well we kind of did, but we heard they were expecting 20,000 on the beach, where the fireworks will be. We didn't feel like fighting with crowds all day--and it'll be too late for the boys. We're on the west edge of the time zone, further north, so darkness doesn't come until a bit later here. We all had a good rest time after church and were invited over to a few different homes of people from church--which was probably a nicer way to celebrate the holiday. We may see if we can observe any fireworks from our balcony, but we'll see how the night progresses.

We sang O Canada at the end of church today, along with a couple stanzas of Lord of the Lands (a hymn that goes to the same tune that I found in the Green Hymnal [we Covenanters refer to the denominational hymnals that have been published through the years be their color]). It was actually the second time I've sung the national anthem since we've been here (the first was at a high school student's award ceremony). It is a wonderful anthem--what a national anthem should be (the odd part is that it begins with us singing about our home and native land--home yes, but not native land. Canada is a place of immigrants even more so than the US is--few people have native). Please don't consider me unpatriotic for saying this, or think I've already switched my allegiances, but I have never liked The Star Spangled Banner. It's a terrible national anthem, if you ask me. I mean, it's a song about a battered flag flying during a war. It's more of an anthem for a flag than for a country. I know people have lobbied for something better over the years--maybe that'll come some time.

Anyway, it seems like there's no unifying force behind Canada Day. While there are plenty of celebrations that are well-attended, we found plenty of people who weren't doing anything today. There's plenty of flags flying and maple leaf clothing out there, but it's not quite to the level that you'd see in the US on Independence Day. Some of the older folks still slip into calling it Dominion Day (what it was called before Quebec had a hissyfit about the name). Some people say that Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day in the US) is more of the independence day for Canada, because it was in WW I that the country really asserted itself as an independent nation. And I think on some level with the Queen as the recognized (albeit just a figurehead) Head of State, know one really knows what Canada's status is. (Take this quiz to see how good you are with Canadian knowledge.)

We talked some in church this morning about the freedom that we are called to in Christ. On political levels, we turn freedom into meaning that we should be able to do whatever we want to do. Freedom in Christ means that we have the freedom not to do the things that we don't want to do or shouldn't do. Freedom in Christ comes through dependence on living through the Holy Spirit (and acknowledging that we can't be independent in any way--in addition to needing community, all that sustains us comes from God: air, sun, food, etc.).

Don't get me wrong--we value our American freedoms (and even what is accessible here in Canada)--but our identity doesn't come with our citizenship. Besides, as the Bible makes clear, because we have secured our salvation by putting our faith in Jesus Christ, Heaven is our home, Heaven is where our true citizenship lies. As the old saying goes: this world ain't my home; I'm just passing through. Having God call us out of our homeland to a new country has reinforced that for us.

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