Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
"One Host, Two Invitations"
Jan. 24, 2018
Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear Him!
~ Psalm 67:5-7 (ESV)
I am going to read you a short poem. Let's see how far I get before you recognize it.
"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand, A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame, Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name, Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand, Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command, The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The poem, written by Emma Lazarus, was originally published in a small collection of writings, which was sold to raise money for the Statue of Liberty's pedestal. Both the book and the poem were quickly forgotten. It was only years after the author's death that the verse was rediscovered. Eventually, all 14 lines of the sonnet were placed over the entrance to the Statue of Liberty.
Those lines changed the very purpose of the grand bronze lady.
The statue's creator, Frederic Bartholdi, originally intended the statue to give encouragement to the countries of Europe where people were fighting tyranny and oppression. With the positioning of the poem, rather than helping the people in Europe, Lazarus' words gave confidence to the people who were leaving Europe.
As I read the statue's famous words, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," I am struck how similar those words are to those of Jesus: "Come unto Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Here we have two powerful invitations -- one from a country; one from our Savior.
No, that's not right, is it?
In truth, both invitations come from the Lord. As Luther said, the Lord has given us all we need to support our body and life. Although many of us complain about the conditions in our country, the rest of the world knows we are just kidding ourselves. We have a blessed country with a golden door of opportunity. We have reasonable peace, reasonable wealth, reasonable resources, and unbelievable possibilities.
Like the psalmist encourages, all the peoples should praise the Lord -- not just for their country, but for the fact that we also have a Savior. In the Christ we have experienced the love of God, the forgiveness and grace of God, and the certainty of an eternity in heaven.
Now it's quite possible that our entire country may not praise the Lord for His work, but all who are saved should join together and say, "O God; let all the peoples praise you!"
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I always remain appreciative that You have given me citizenship in two countries. For this earthly land, I praise You; for my heavenly home, I shall be eternally grateful. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
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This poem, written by Emma Lazarus, was originally published in a...