“Ad Mari Usque Ad Mare” – Nathan Betts on Canada 150
Posted by Nathan Betts on June 30, 2017
I am a proud Canadian. There is much to love about this country: the vast and varied topographical beauty, the multi-ethnic cultures, the two national sports of hockey and lacrosse, and the different seasons that are winter and July. And let us not forget the deeply beloved Tim Hortons. I am convinced that we will have Tim Hortons donuts and timbits in heaven.
As I have had the privilege of traveling across the globe, my patriotism for Canada has only grown. I remember the first time I traveled abroad. I was a teenager traveling on a mission trip to East Africa. Like many good Canadian travelers, I had a Canadian flag sowed onto my luggage before I left for the journey. As I now think back to that trip in Africa, I still remember the many warm smiles I received when people found out that I was Canadian. I am also aware of the many jokes told at Canada’s expense. For instance, “How many Canadians does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: None. They don’t change light bulbs. They accept them the way they are.”
Yet, despite the jokes and lighthearted comments made at Canada’s expense, the country is still viewed as a peace-keeping nation and a vastly beautiful land in which all, no matter their faith or ethnicity, are welcome. This is a very good thing. On her momentous 150th birthday, I think back to the naming of Canada in 1866. Although the religious history of Canada is contentious, it is reasonably clear that Psalm 72 had a significant influence in the naming of the “Dominion of Canada.” Some might be surprised to know that Canada’s Coat of Arms still has the Latin words Ad Mari Usque Ad Mare, which is translated from Psalm 72:8 where we read the words, “May he rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” The Psalm here is referring to King Solomon’s kingship. It is a prayer of blessing for the king to rule God’s people well. It also looks forward to what the Messiah will accomplish.
There is much to be gleaned from this one verse emblazoned on Canada’s Coat of Arms, but let me just draw out one point. This verse should point us to pray for Canada’s leaders. We are all aware that we are living in very tense times right now. Yes, we live in a moment in which there is great opportunity, wealth, freedom, and safety. But a feeling of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety also prevails. Psalm 72:8 helpfully points us to the vital priority of prayer. While it has become commonplace to hear, read, or share discouraging reports in the news, we as Christians should be the first to commit our concerns to the Lord and ask him to bless this country.
As we celebrate the country’s 150th birthday, I find hope just by looking back to the naming of this wonderful land. I remember that even in the naming of Canada, there was critical thought given to asking the Lord for his blessing.
Lord Jesus, may you be the one who rules and watches over Canada, as far as this land extends.
Happy Canada Day!