One nation under God
By QuaWanna Bannarbie
The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays in the year. When I recall from my younger days celebrations of our nation’s independence, memories come to mind of cousins too numerous to remember their names during family reunion gatherings, of watermelon dripping down my chin, of sliding down the hill inside an old tractor tire near the large yard of my great-grandparents’ house and of my aunts dressed in matching shirts of red, white and blue filling our plates of fried fish and chicken with multiple side dishes. I always looked forward to the Fourth of July, because the holiday brought us together to be reminded of our unions as family and a nation.
Family can be so spread out. Military assignments, relocations for jobs and college acceptance have spread many families apart. It is so good to have times when we come together. Distance, whether it is geographical or sociological, does a job on our ability to unite.
A few weeks ago, my church, Covenant Community Church, completed our Vacation Bible School using the curriculum by Answers in Genesis titled “The Incredible Race.” This was my sixth year as a VBS facilitator. The message of this curriculum enforced the Biblical teaching that we are one human race but many nations. The children learned how to say the name of Jesus in different languages and learned the story of the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11:1-9, which explains how our ancestors were scattered to many areas, creating differences and cultures resulting from their inability to unite to continue building a tower that they desired to reach heaven.
I loved that the curriculum emphasized the history that we were once a united humanity. Each day, our children were reminded that we are One Family and One Race. There are many definitions of the word “race.” The title theme of Answers in Genesis highlighted that the “race” that we should be the most concerned with is not defined by a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits or characteristics but rather the course of life that is described in Hebrews 12:1 that encourages us saying, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” It was my hope that the different shades of brown faces that listened to the facilitators during our Vacation Bible School took away from this curriculum that their lives in Suffolk may be worlds and miles away from another brown face in Japan, but they are no less connected to that child because we are under an open heaven where God’s love extends to every tribe, language and nation.
Children in public schools across America learn to say the Pledge of Allegiance as young as 4 years of age. In those words, we are reminded that we are “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Lately, the news coverage and our social media threads look and sound much like a divided and diverse nation unable to unite.
On Independence Day, we celebrate the United States of America. Our history is marked by times too numerous to count where lack of agreement or bipartisanship have marred this so-called United America. Our Heavenly Father is the same. And the race He has in mind for all of us is the same: to reconcile us to Himself and back to live with Him in Heaven. While Babel may be believed by some to just be a myth, I think the reality cannot be disputed. A people’s inability to unite will in fact deter their goal to reach Heaven.
I wish you a beautiful time of reunion with your neighbors, family and friends this Fourth of July. Let’s consider what we might do better so this nation under God sees ourselves as one people to reach our ultimate home.
QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.