No matter how much we love our country, nationalistic signs have no place in our worship spaces. Nadia Bolz-Weber suggested that someone write a liturgy for removing flags from our sanctuaries…so I did.
Please feel free to adapt and use as needed.
God of all creation,
God of every nation,
God who is known by many names,
We love our country
We give thanks for the beauty You bestowed upon it from the purple mountain’s majesty to the amber waves of grain and for everything from sea to shining sea
We do not ignore the flaws of our nation nor do we forget the people from whom it was taken
We love our country, and we continue to work to ensure that liberty and justice really are available for all who dwell here
We honor those who have served this country and never take for granted the lives that have been sacrificed
But this flag does not belong in the places and spaces where we come to worship You.
It is a symbol of a land we cherish, fight for and work to change. It is not something to be worshipped. We come to worship the one true God–not a symbol, an idea or a country.
The presence of the flag in our worship space may cause us to forget that our God is not the God of any one nation, but the God of all people. Our God cannot be relegated to a specific nationality or race or ethnic group. Our God is far too big for that.
So today, we will remove this flag from our sanctuary and give it a new home in our (fellowship hall/narthex/multipurpose building/etc), where it will stand to honor and remember those who have served this nation and as a reminder to us all to continue to pray for our country, its people and our leaders.
May the God of all nations, the God of all creation and the God we know by many names continue to bless us as we continue on our journey of faith together.
If it works in your context, consider actually processing the flag from the sanctuary to its new home while singing God Bless America (or A Song of Hope) at the end of worship. If not, have members (military or former military transfer it to its new location. Consider using the verbage above and have it framed and placed near the flag in its new location: This flag stands in honor of those who have served our country and as a reminder to pray for our nation, it’s people and our leaders.
A friend and colleague has suggested this as a possible hymn as well.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.
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