Honor God  

1996 National Day of Prayer Show

    This is a short dramatic reading I wrote for the 1996 National Day of Prayer. All music is taken from the Turner Network soundtrack album "Gettysburg", with track information noted. If you perform this, note that the music selections were copied from CD to .WAV file and heavily edited (usually padded by repeating sections) to produce music that ran the proper length behind the live-action script. (This was written in 1996, in those dark hours of corruption and national depair. Tweak it yourself for today if you want to perform it!)
Although it is technically (C) 1996, Andrew Bartmess, performance rights are freely granted provided all Glory is given to God, and this boxed message is visible on any printed hardcopy or electronic reprint.


(Main Title #1 from Gettysburg, Up and Under)

    From its bold beginnings, this nation was founded on the timeless principle of freedom. Our Founders recognized that this freedom was a gift, and they made it a regular practice to Honor God in their thoughts, words and deeds. May Second is the annual National Day of Prayer, when we all are called to "Honor God" in prayer. The Bible cautions up to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's". But do we really take the time to "render unto God that which is God's"?

    The Declaration of Independence---our first statement as Americans of national purpose and identity---made "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" the foundation of the United States of America. The Declaration further asserted that the people have "inalienable rights" that are God-given. These rights are not conferred by civil government, whose express task is to secure those rights. Our Founders did not seek to lock God out of the lives of His people. Our Founders daily sought to honor God.


(Music crossfades to Fife and Drum, Cut #4)

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, and not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Patrick Henry

    Years later, after the war, they sat in candlelight and debated long into the night. The nation, 13 states, were loosely aligned, newly free from the harsh rule of England, and made free---they were certain---by God's own swift, sure hand. Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Jay...our "founding fathers." How to construct a new nation that did not make the same errors of the old? What should they do...but move ahead in prayer?

Whoever will introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity will change the face of the world.

Benjamin Franklin


(Crossfades to Men of Honor, Cut #2)

    The First Amendment, keystone to the U.S. Constitution, guarantees that the right of free exercise of religion and emphasizes the protection of that right by prohibiting "any law respecting the establishment of religion." But the Founders saw this issue differently than some might today...they were afraid of the state's power to control the church, not afraid of people with faith being active in government. Indeed, the first act of the First Continental Congress was to appoint a chaplain. In those Revolution days, and in the many years until the 1950's, the US government was pro-religion, and most often, pro-Christianity.

The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Congress of the United States, 1854


(Crossfades to We Are the Flank, Cut #10)

    The common view of Thomas Jefferson's "Separation of Church and State" today paints that patriot as a anti-religious zealot. But Jefferson's oft-cited opinion is nowhere to be found in the Constitution or any other official law book...it was published as part of a single personal letter he wrote to the Danbury Connecticut Baptist Church, who feared the state would make a single Christian denomination into the "national faith", and rekindle the Christian infighting they endured in Europe. But Jefferson's view that the State should not control the church did not make him an enemy of God nor religion. The hands that wrote that letter also penned this point of view:

...can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice does not sleep forever.

Thomas Jefferson

    In his "Virginia Bill for Establishing Religious Liberty", Thomas Jefferson also wrote that a person's religious beliefs do not disqualify them from holding public office, and held officials were perfectly within their rights to open meetings with prayer or call the public to prayer on any given day. Freedom TO worship does not mean "freedom FROM worship." For all our national accomplishments, we still need to Honor God.


(Crossfades to Lee's Solitude, Cut #13)

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: that it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government and the principles of Christianity.

John Quincy Adams, 1812

    The Founders would say all people in America should be free to profess their religious beliefs, without government interference or prohibition, whether playing the role of worker, governmental employee, teacher, neighbor, or parent. By their law, all people are free to encourage their fellows to pray. They knew our security as a nation was built upon prayer, the more to honor God.

Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

George Washington, Farewell Address of 1796

    Washington's legendary Farewell Address was considered for a hundred and seventy years to be the example of perfect public speaking, and was included in almost every history text. Sadly, you won't find it include in any public school text today, for it does the unthinkable...it gives the glory for America's very existance to God Almighty. But in the past fifty years, those words, and almost all other evidence of our Founders' faith, have been quietly erased. Since the first pro-state court decision in 1947, many long-standing practices that the Founders found fully acceptable have been removed from public life. Among these are school prayer in class and commencement, the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools, and even the bland government-authorized "moments of silence" once found in public school. Even so, the Ten Commandments remain chiseled on the wall fo the Supreme Court, and both the Supreme Court and Congress begin each day with prayer. God has not changed...only we have.

Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.

John Jay, 1st Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

    Because of our Founders' faith, civic prayers and national days of prayer have a long history in our republic, dating clear back to the First Continental Congress. On July 12, 1775, John Handcock sighed the first Congressional order establishing the first day of national prayer "throughout the continent." This event symbolized the unity with which the fledgling nation could come together before God for guidance and wisdom. Troubles and conflict lay ahead for America, but God was always there.


(Crossfades to Kathleen Mavourneen #17)

    To many, the civil war saw our nation's darkest hour. Brother set against brother, destruction and death on our own shores, a union at war with itself. One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, considered the war a Divine judgment upon our nation when he signed his name to these words, words that ring with meaning today:

    An Effective Remedy for National Ills for all People in all Nations; a Proclamation for a National Day of Prayer. Abraham Lincoln, 1863.

    WHEREAS, the Senate of the United States; devoutly recognizing the Supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in the affairs of men and nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation.

    As we know that His divine Law, nations, like individuals, are subject to punishments and chastisement in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be bust a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins?

    We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us!

    It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray...to God.<p>

    I do hereby request all people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to this solemn occasion.

    All this being done, in sincerity and truth, le us then rest humbly in the hope, authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less the pardon of our national sins, and restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity, and peace.

Abraham Lincoln, 1863


(Crossfades to Reunion and Finale, Cut #18)

    In 1952, Congress unanimously passed a joint resolution, signed by president Harry Truman, stabling a National Day of Prayer. This law was amended in 1988 and signed by president Ronald Regan, permanently declaring the first Tuesday in May as the National Day of Prayer. In 1994, the states of New Jersey and Alabama also officially recognized the day, and Pennsylvania and other states are preparing to sign on officially as well.

Without God, there is no prompting of the conscious...without God, there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure...If we ever forget that we are 'One Nation Under God', we will be one nation gone under.

President Ronald Regan, 1984


(Crossfades to General Lee at Twilight, Cut #5. Music fades under the following section as lights fade to black. A slow "Big Ben" kind of chime begins softly during fade, growing in volume as the music recedes, until it is noticable, but not overpowering, in the background of the spoken word.)

    In triumph, and in catastrophe, there is the need for honest prayer, connecting us to God. In 1995, in the shadow of the Oklahoma City bombing tragedy, the governor of Oklahoma signed an official proclamation:

    ...It is eminently fitting and proper that we in Oklahoma observe a day when all communities may acknowledge our many blessings and express gratitude to God for them, while recognizing the need for the strengthening of religious and moral values in our land.

    The United States of America is beset with a tidal wave of violence, both juvenile and adult, teenage pregnancies, dysfunctional families, and a host of problems which are tearing apart our social fabrics...

    It is no coincidence that these problems are occurring as values of faith are swept from the public square, to be replaced by postmodern moral relativism which rejects concepts such as right and wrong, and personal responsibility. "Such a philosophy is at odds with the heritage of Americans, who historically have shared a broad consensus of religiously-inspired...values, even while insisting on religious freedom, and

    Whereas the power of prayer, and the power of God through prayer have been at the core of the shared American experience through out history...I, Frank Keating, Governor of the state of Oklahoma, do hereby proclaim...A DAY OF PRAYER in the state of Oklahoma.


(Music up, Dawn, Cut #37)

    In our glories, and in our tragedies, America turns to God in prayer. This year, for the first time, the governors of all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands joined the President in urging people to pray.

Today, we need God more than ever. We are his children, seeking to honor Him and follow Him. But what kind of children are we?

    Families are the very foundation of America; God's primary tool for training small children to lead moral, honorable lives as they grow to become our nation's next generation of leaders. Tragically, America's families are unraveling in record numbers. Is it any wonder that crime, violence, drugs, suicide and hopelessness have stolen a generation of his children?

We have no government...which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.

John Adams

    May second: a chance to "Honor God". In our homes, in our workplaces, let us do as our Founders did...let us come together to pray for our nation. Pray for our children; pray four our schools. Take time from your day and join us. The Sanctuary will be open from seven to eight PM for your prayers. If you cannot make it, please pray in your homes. But wherever you are, take the chance to connect with God.



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