Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Flags in Church

On one of the listservs I read, there has been a discussion of how -- and eventually whether -- flags should be carried in liturgical processions. Now I know that such things occur, although I give thanks that we don't do that at Mount Olive.

I have about a dozen reasons for not displaying the American OR the misnamed "Christian" flag in the Church building -- and I mean anywhere in the Church building. But I accidentally ran across an Orthodox priest's explanation of why he doesn't allow flag-draped coffins to be processed in for funerals, and I think it is subtly rich and profound. He says,

As I once explained to a military honor guard accompanying a flag-draped casket, "At the church door we remove the flag of state and cover the casket with the pall of the Church. You are about to enter a foreign embassy representing Jesus Christ, who is King over all kings and Lord over all lords, at whose Name every knee will one day bow. As you know, no flag of another state is ever displayed inside a foreign embassy." They understood perfectly.

It seems positively Hauerwasian in its ecclesiology: The Church is the Kingdom of God; we brook no pretenders to the throne, and neither do we tolerate the banners or flag of any such pretender. It will be a sign that the Church is regaining some of her sense of dignity and gravitas when saying such a thing -- either in the priest's words or in mine -- requires no elucidation. Better: when such sentiments are greeted with "well, duh."

You may read the entire post here.


Alan said...

The post you refer to was actually a guest post on the Orthodox blog, but written by a Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod Pastor.

Rev Cwirla's writings can be found here as well:

And here:

Dwight P. said...

I appreciate the correction. Makes me even more impressed, since a Lutheran wrote it (just a joke). In a way, it's not a very Lutheran statement, by some lights: Many read the so-called "two kingdoms" teaching to allow precisely the kind of mixing that Pr. Cwirla stands against.


Joshua said...

I've never liked that flags were posted in churches.

thanks for the quote

Anonymous said...

Well, I am (very) sorry to admit that we visited an Orthodox mission congregation on Sunday and, lo and behold, there was a flag in the corner in the back of the church.

On an up note, however, Younger Son said "Mom, look - there's a flag. What is THAT doing here?"
All I could say in reply was, "Good question."

ugh. At least our 10-year old noticed just how out of place that is.

(anonymous for now, but not for long)

-C said...

Very sad to say that my family attended an Orthodox mission church this past Sunday and, lo and behold, there was an American flag at the back of the church. At least it was stuck in a corner.
Youngest son saw it, leaned over to me and asked, "What's that flag doing in HERE?" All I could say was, "Good question."


-C said...

sorry for the double post! I didn't see the response when I checked for it.