The “Latte Salute”

Much has been made on the news and social media regarding President Obama’s “Latte Salute”. When the President stepped off Marine One, two U.S. Marines stood at the end of the steps, saluting their Commander-in-Chief, the “most important of all military courtesies,” according to a Marine manual. It is customary for the President to salute the two men, and it is usually a very quick action. Matter of fact, I cannot ever remember a President stopping for the matter. Well, President Obama stepped off Marine One, descended the steps with a coffee cup in his right hand, then raised the hand to salute the two Marines, setting off a firestorm.

While I certainly do not want to defend the President in this matter, I figure that he was thinking about what was next, who was waiting for him, maybe about the phone conversation he could have just ended, and a whole plethora of other possibilities. Therefore, he flippantly returned the salute.

As this action increases our frustration in regards to our President, I think many, if not most, Christians are guilty of a similar attitude in worship. We gather in a corporate setting, rush to get there on time (or rush to not miss the entire song service), come in with distracted minds, and flippantly offer a “salute” to God, who is waiting to inhabit our praises (Psalm 22:3). In our personal worship, we might give praise quickly as we head to the next appointment screaming for our attention, or utter a quick prayer of help and attach a phrase of flippant praise to help us feel better about asking God for things repeatedly when we know our devotion is lacking. In both the personal and corporate aspects of worship, we might just ignore our responsibilities completely, similar to if the President would have kept walking with no recognition of the two Marines. I have to imagine that this attitude toward worship frustrates the Lord, just as many are frustrated over the President’s actions.

I wish that President Obama would have reached the bottom of the steps, emptied his hands of everything, paused to salute the men, then shook each man’s hand. That is how we must worship. We will never have a strong spiritual life without times of laying down everything that concerns us, pausing all of the activity around us, and giving the Lord the genuine worship He deserves.

2 Samuel 6 records King David celebrating the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. As part of the celebration, David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf, making this celebration a time of worship. As the ark was being brought, David “danced before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14- emphasis mine). David’s wife, Michal, became upset because she considered David’s actions undignified. David’s actions were performed in front of a large group of people, but he was able to lay down the kingly expectations and gave God the worship He deserved. May we learn to do the same.

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