Psalm 33:12
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD;
      and the people whom he hath chosen
      for his own inheritance.

Blessed is the Nation Whose God is the Lord

By Rev. Abraham K. Akaka
Given on: Friday, January 20, 1961

We gather in Kawaiahao today as a people of Faith in God, a people of a nation under God, to pray for our beloved nation, for the peace of the world, and to ask God's blessing upon the President of our United States.

Inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
The National Archives

About five hours ago, one of the greatest events in our American life took place. On the east steps of the Capitol - before a great assembly of officials and citizens of our and sister nations, our new President John F. Kennedy placed his hand upon the Holy Bible and said:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Throughout our nation's political history, it has been the person who has made the office rather than the office the person. He who is chosen by the nation or state or county is free to make his own mark upon history, and the highest hopes and deepest fears of the people of our nation are centered in one man today. What shall his mark be? We can remember the marks made by various heads of our nation, and the mention of their names recall their marks: Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower. But for today's mortal crisis, will our new President lead our nation and mankind into war or peace?

Much will depend upon one man. But more will depend upon all of the people of our nation, upon you and me and our children, upon every citizen of our United States. Amid the complexity and stress of these days, we look not only to our President and Congress, Governor and Legislature, County Chair and Board of Supervisors, to come up with a program and plan of action, but to every member of Congress to help our President make that program effective, to give it balance, to correct it when necessary. And our President and Congress look to us to help guide them. Our country vests the executive power in a president, the legislative power in the Congress, the Judicial Power in the Supreme Court. But the basic power of government lies in your hands and mine - in the ideals and ideas that possess the hearts and minds and souls of the people of our beloved nation.

The ancient truth resounds today: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD." But when the question is asked, "Is America truly a nation under God?", we cannot ask anybody else to answer for us. We must answer this question ourselves, individually, in the depth of our own souls. Each of us is held responsible for what happens in our nation and world - whether it will be one world under God, one world at peace, or no world at all. You and I therefore are under the demand to make decisions - a people whose decisions are to be as the incisions of a wise physician and surgeon, cutting away the bad and keeping the good, choosing the way of God rather than the way of the gallows. And what is the diagnosis that justifies immediate surgery?

One eminent doctor of mankind, the great American theologian, Nels Ferre, made this diagnosis a few days ago:

I see two possible escapes from world catastrophe. One is that communism will sweep the world. Before its austere commitment, our cancan decadence, our liquored moral blur, our fashion-glutted economy, our surplus rotting, our price-pegged american way of life, rooted and grounded in production for war, with cosmetics spread over the scab of our self indulgence, may cave in at the hate-filled shrieks of our desperate youth. The axe of god's inexorable judgment is already laid to the root of our own tree. The decline of the west is bringing its own destruction. Asia and Africa will rise up in judgment while the poison of our own sustained and abandoned sinning will paralyze us beyond any effective defense... or, we can repent and reform, accept the self discipline that goes with true freedom.

Difficult as these words may be to receive from the doctor, we recognize the truth that is in them. And our prayers here today will do no good unless they result in that self-discipline in ourselves and in our nation, that creative contrition that arrests the momentum and reverses the direction that leads to death for our nation and world.

God is saying: "Blessed is the nation and world whose God is the LORD, whose concern is that there shall be liberty and justice, truth and love for all." Above all man-blown optimisms, all infantile and inadequate faiths that chain men to elbowy brinksmanship, mad militarism, sterile sloganeering, blind shouting for privilege and power, God's voice is saying: "Blessed is the nation and world whose God is the LORD."

God calls us today to make our lives as living words for Him - in the spirit of Aloha to share our gifts with the nations of the east and accept their gifts to us, to plan for peace and not for war, to use our communications media to carry truth and love rather than propaganda and hate, to turn our homes and schools and churches and YMCAs into centers of hope and faith for the future rather than dens of doubt and destruction and destructive life, to take down excess profits, liquor, and sex as the three kings of our life, and exalt His righteousness and Truth and Love as our supreme values.

The future is not only for our public officials to decide - but for you and me also, and we are deciding that future each day in what we do and say and think.

So as we pray here today in Hawaii's Mother Church for our President, our nation and world, I call you to make this the beginning of four years of Prayer, four years of living Prayer, looking and striving for the transformation of the city of man - of race and nation, of name and position, of wit and wealth - into the City of God where His Name is glorified, and the wellbeing of all mankind served, and the Peace of the world formed.

Hawaii's motto was first spoken within these walls more than 100 years ago, and Hawaii today is not just a showcase of democracy for the whole world to see - but an illustration of the Truth that the life of the land is perpetuated by righteousness.