Pastor’s ponderings

This past Monday was Flag Day, and in just a couple of weeks we will celebrate Independence Day.  As such, I wanted to spend the next couple of weeks pondering the intersection of our faith and our patriotism.  This week I’ll talk about our nation’s flag.  Next week, our sense of nationalism.  Lastly, for the Fourth of July weekend, our keen sense of freedom and independence.

            So, first, the flag, the good ole Stars and Stripes, the banner which we proudly fly to show our connection with our nation.  We see it on some of the tallest metal poles, or on the shortest of wooden sticks.  We see it in the yards of schools and businesses, and attached to the front porch of many homes.  We even see it in our church sanctuaries.  Yet it is there, the flag’s placement in the church, that has gotten quite a bit of attention.  Where should it be displayed in church, or should it even be there?

            Hoyt Hickman once noted, “Both in the [U.S.] Flag Code and in the Bible, it is assumed that placement on the right signifies higher honor than – and priority over – placement on the left and that higher placement signifies higher honor than and priority over lower placement” ( ).

So, it would seem that there is no way to display the American flag and the Christian flag without dishonoring one flag or the other.  If we place the American flag to the right, we dishonor the flag symbolizing Jesus.  If we place the Christian flag to the right, we dishonor the flag of our nation (and are essentially breaking national law).  So, what are we to do?

            Taylor Burton-Edwards noted, “Since the United Methodist Church has no official position on this question, it is up to the discernment of local congregations in the United States whether and how they will choose to display or use the flag of the United States in their worship space,” and, “…the real important work for our US worshipping communities is not simply to decide whether or where to place a US flag in the worship space, but rather how to interpret and communicate clearly what its presence, placement, use or absence means for them in their setting”

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            It is amazing how something so simple can become so complicated when we actually stop to ponder everything about it, isn’t it?  Who knew that our loyalty to country could interfere with our loyalty to Christ, and vice versa?  The real thing for all of us to ponder in this moment is – which is most important to you?  In which do we first display our faith?  To which do we give higher honor in our daily lives?

                                                            Pondering and praying,

                                                            Pastor Steve

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