And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this Name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this Man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men." Acts 5:27-29
For 70 years the graduating class at Ohio's East Liverpool High School has sung the Lord's Prayer at the service in which they received their diplomas. It was a custom they planned to continue in 2016.
Of course, we live in a world that has many people who think singing the Lord's Prayer ought to be forbidden in such a government-sponsored event. One such group of people is the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The foundation claimed that singing the Lord's Prayer was a violation of the Constitution because it promoted religion.
The foundation went further.
They told the East Liverpool High School District that if the Lord's Prayer were sung this year at graduation, the school could expect to see itself embroiled in a costly and time-consuming lawsuit, which would make their lives miserable.
The school district caved in to the threats and told the students, the teachers, and the choir that the Lord's Prayer had been taken off the program and was not to be used.
It was a decision which upset almost everyone. Still, what could be done?
Let me tell you what was done.
Shortly before the graduation was to begin the students got together and discussed the decision. They didn't think their freedom of speech ought to be curtailed. They thought their freedom of religion shouldn't be stifled.
And like the disciples, many of them thought they ought to obey God rather than men.
This is why, during the service, immediately after the class valedictorian welcomed everyone, the seniors stood up and said the Lord's Prayer. It was a moving moment and many in the audience were proud. They were proud these young people did what they felt was right, and they were proud those kids hadn't broken any laws.
After all, they had been told they couldn't sing the Lord's Prayer. Nobody had said anything about not reciting it.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the world will always try to silence those who wish to honor You. Grant that those who have been redeemed by the Christ's gracious sacrifice may do what is right and, in word and deed, bring honor to the Redeemer. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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