Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On flags, worship, citizenship, and faith

Article for Redeeming Features by the Rev. Kate Ekrem

            Recently the worship committee has been discussing the issue of having an American and Episcopal flag in our sanctuary, in response to questions from parishioners. The flags were moved to make room for the Giving Tree at Christmas, and when we forgot to put them back right away, some members asked that they be returned, to honor our service people.  When they were put back, that drew attention to them again and some other members asked that we reconsider having flags in the sanctuary as, to them, it was in conflict with the idea of separation of church and state. So, as always when five or six parishioners ask about something worship related, the worship committee discussed it. One of the things the worship committee concluded is that, as a parish, we should think a bit more about the reasons why we want to have flags in or out of the sanctuary. What does the presence of the flags mean to us and why? 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sermon for The Third Sunday After Pentecost by Bob King

The American Flag in Christian Worship - Bob King July 3rd, 2011

Zechariah 9:9-12 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! ... Lo your king comes to you; ... humble and riding on a donkey, ...”

Romans 7:15-25a “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate ... “

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 “To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we waited, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds ...”

O Lord, give us inquiring and discerning hearts, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy in all your works.

Last Advent, we had removed the American and Episcopal Church flags from the sanctuary to make room for the mitten tree, and no one thought to put them back until a parishioner mentioned it this spring. When the flags were returned, other parishioners questioned if they belonged. This exchange encouraged Kate to open a conversation about the flags with the congregation, and what better way to start than with a sermon on Fourth of July weekend,