The year is 1755.
In North America, the French and Indian war is at full boil. A member of the British army, surgeon Richard Shuckburgh, watches annoyingly as contingents of Colonial militia show up to aid the Crown. In his eyes these ‘Yankees’ aren’t worth very much - they are disorderly, disheveled, lacking in military training and etiquette. In fact, Dr. Shuckburgh sees them as a joke - especially when compared to their British counterparts. The joke is so funny, that he decides to write a song about it.
And thus, Yankee Doodle Dandy is born.
Today we think of Yankee Doodle as the quintessential American song (it’s certainly the oldest American song). But we often forget that it was originally written to make fun of us. A ‘doodle’ means an idiot. A ‘dandy’ is a man who spends too much time and attention on his clothes. So the phrase ‘Yankee doodle dandy’ means ‘stupid, low class American who sticks a feather in his cap and thinks it high class fashion.” And the joke stuck - the British loved the song and sang it throughout the French and Indian War.
But then something changed.
The Yankees had had enough. The Yankees wanted a country of their own. The Yankees embraced their identity and stood together. And then, the funniest thing happened: we started singing the song back to them. We sang it in defiance. We sang it as a badge of honor of who we were. And so Yankee Doodle Dandy became the fight song of the Revolutionary War.
I’ll bet Dr. Shuckburgh didn’t see that coming.
Brothers and sisters, we live in a world that doesn’t like us very much. It persecutes us, mocks us, belittles us. Which is what Jesus told us would happen “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) They’ve always called us names. From calling us “God eaters” in ancient Rome to labeling us insensitive “Bible heads” today.
But by the grace of God we know who we are. We embrace our identity as God’s children. We stand together ready to hold out the Word of Life. And we look forward to a country of our own, the heavenly home that Jesus has won for us. We are the people of God, and we delight in serving HIM - no matter what persecutions come our way.
The year is 2022, and the Gospel still marches forth, unstoppable as ever.
Pastor Joshua Zarling
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