Cross and flag do not mix
I’ve heard of people getting upset when clergy point out that for Christians, especially in church, the cross is our predominant symbol, not the American flag. This story takes things to a new level:
A local church pastor who removed the U.S. flag from the church sanctuary has taken a leave of absence after receiving harassing and threatening notes — including one left in his hymnbook in the church, police and church officials said. …
“Sean [Allen, pastor] was of the belief that because we are a church, we are a people of Christ, we should be focusing on the cross of Christ,” Long said. “So he removed the flags from the sanctuary.”
This kind of thing tells me that it’s important to be clear and firm on this one. I’m grateful to live in this country, and I like our flag. Of course, the Episcopal Church flag makes a nice visual companion to the US flag. We fly one set outside our church, and we have another set displayed from the gallery. But I took down the third set, which was near the sanctuary. My reasoning was that one set inside was plenty, and that our primary visual symbols should be the cross and the Holy Table. As far as I know, no one seemed upset by this. I do not know what it would have been like if there wasn’t also a set in the rear of the church.
Anyway, this seems like exactly the kind of thing that’s worth some good conversation. Why are Christians so incredibly invested in having a US flag in the front of our worship spaces? What should our primary symbol be? Are we American Christians, or Christian Americans? Then there’s the ever-popular question: what would Jesus do?
I don’t think we can have it both ways. You can’t be supremely loyal to the flag and to the cross. I seem to recall something about how we can’t serve two masters. Hint, it’s in this week’s Gospel reading.
In any case, I hope Pastor Allen has a long life, and that he’s free to go back to preaching the Gospel soon. Death threats! There’s another topic for a sermon series…