The Flag is on the Ballot. Move it to the Chancel.
“Heavenly Parent, hallowed be your name. Your kin-dom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:9-10 (NRSV, adapted)
Throughout my ministry, I struggled with having an American flag in the sanctuary.
The Kin-dom of God is for everyone, not just American citizens, I would say. When you step into a sanctuary you stand on holy turf where there is room for all people, but zero room for nationalism. Jesus would no sooner wear a “God Bless America” tee than a “God Bless Rome” tunic, I might add.
Church members of the greatest generation, who came of age during World War II, were often the least impressed with all that rationale. I didn’t share their experience of the country, and democracy itself, in peril.
Today, I not only want the flag in the sanctuary, I want it on the chancel. I want to drench it with Holy Water and scrub it with pages of the Holy Gospel. I want to light incense, say prayers, display Old Glory front and center.
Democracy is once again in peril. Perhaps only God can save it.
If your church has an American flag, ask your pastor to move it to the center of the chancel for the day, or maybe the week. Should your pastor hesitate, feel free to send them my way.
Some church members will applaud. Others will gasp. Because of Covid, perhaps only God will know.
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.