Saturday, November 23, 2013

Flags


Lately I've been reading quite a few books about WWII and the history of the world from the late 1800's- through the 1980's.  Ok I'm totally a geek.  I love to read mysteries for relaxing but I do not want my mind to go to mush!  Some books have been more tedious than others but it's eye opening.

I finally read about the battle ground that we visited in Ukraine.  We traveled by van through some rough roads and up a small mountain to get to the battle ground that stretched as far as the eye could see.  I appreciated it then, but really did not know the historical value as I do now.  I also caught some footage of that battle on the Military channel a few nights ago.  That was exciting to me.
 
I'm going to write something that may cause folks throw a shoe at their computer but.....
 
When I wrote about adoption the other day and how I was for all kinds of adoptions but against anything that reeked of requiring adoptive kids and parents to be of the same ethnic/race background just to "preserve" culture, I mentioned how I don't think of myself as an American FIRST!  I got some agreeing responses on that statement.
 
I LOVE America and appreciate the freedoms we have been given.  I'm thankful that we as a nation have escaped so much cruelty that most of the world has had to endure.  We've been safe in our homes, we've never had to leave because of foreign armies taking over, we've been blessed.  I tear up when I hear "God Bless America" or "America the Beautiful"  But I am not primarily an American citizen. 
 
One thing that drives me batty is to have an American flag inside of a church.  I don't' mind it so much when a church has many flags displayed of many countries.  Then it's like a reminder that all nations should hear of God and all nations will stand before God one day.  But when JUST an American flag is promoted in a church.  That makes me so uncomfortable. 
 
WHY?  Because Christianity is NOT just an American religion.  Jesus didn't die for the "red, white and blue" 
 
Many people don't understand but everything in a church should point to Christ not to a country.  Think about it for a minute, what if you were in another country , say a communistic country and you went into an underground church.  Do you think they would have their countries flag promoted? 
 
In churches, even the placement of the furniture points to God and to what that church believes.  Take the pulpit, in a Protestant church the altar is between the pews and the pulpit symbolizing that the people can approach God on their own.  In a Catholic church the altar is behind the pulpit symbolizing that the people must go through the priest to get to God. 
 
So my point is, things in a church should focus on God and God alone.
 
When we stand before God, we won't be holding an American flag, a Russian flag, a Chinese flag, an Ukraine flag or any other type of flag.  We won't be singing "America the Beautiful" Or  "God Save the Queen"   We will be singing songs of praise to the King of Kings!
 
So having an American flag in a church really bothers me.  As I've traveled overseas, I've never been in a church that had just a flag of their country displayed in their sanctuary.  I did go to an International church once that had the flag of many nations displayed to represent all the countries that were worshipping together.  But I think the idea of equating your own country with God is an uniquely American thing. 
 
And that's what bothers me, it seems to equate God and America as being hand in hand. 
 
I'm so NOT anti-American please know that.  Every time I've ever gotten back from any other country I've been THRILLED to be back in America!   America has been blessed by God and for many years we had a strong moral backbone.  We were never perfect but we were a heck of a lot closer to perfect than any other major country I know of!  We've had our shortcomings.....BUT  people still line up to try and get into America.  I've seen it at the Ukraine and Chinese embassies. 
 
BUT America is not eternal.   American is not "God's chosen nation"  So when churches proudly display an American flag inside their sanctuary, maybe they need to think about what statement they are making.....
 
Now ask me about immigration.  I'm so NOT for open borders, not in this day and age!  I believe in  a proper immigration process.  I don't believe in giving citizenship to illegals no matter where they originated from.....  My three kids had to go through the process (in fact Shad is still going through the process as I brought him home by myself and that has been a pain!) 
 
OK now that I've ticked off everyone.......
 
 
We're having a good Saturday morning, the kids are still asleep:)   We're going to pack today and get ready to hit the woods tomorrow!  Have a good weekend!
 


11 comments:

  1. Would you ever consider that some churches proudly display our American Flag because our founding fathers founded this nation on God? I feel that it is an appropriate reminder of this! And having the flag displayed in no way, shape or form should distract from our worship!

    "And that's what bothers me, it seems to equate God and America as being hand in hand". Your quote.....I believe that God and America are "hand in hand" because God has blessed us with the freedoms we realize! How can one separate the two?

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    1. You raise a good point. Hopefully that is how most people look at it.

      What I mean with that statement "God and America as being hand in hand" is that I get the impression that some feel like America is some extension/part of God. Not in the sense of America as a nation reaching out to help others but more of equating it almost with salvation.

      Our forefathers did respect and honor God and we are one of the few countries with that distinction despite some of our failures over the years.

      I don't know if I'm describing explaining myself well....but there is something about having too much pride in America itself that bothers me. I don't see that in other countries, where the focus stays on God.

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  2. Let's see if my understanding is the same as yours: I feel very uncomfortable when people think that American is the *only* country to send out missionaries effectively, since we are superior in our faith and trust in God...due in large part to the elevation (worship??) of the Constitution written by men who credited the Creator for giving us liberty and freedoms we indeed have been blessed with. I don't think that in and of itself makes a country superior to another. [I have a feeling I may be joining you in the 'stepping on toes' club...oopsies! NOT a popular view, nor a politically correct position to take!!]

    And I had never thought about the concept of the American flag being solely displayed in a church. It is an interesting thing to ponder. We go to an CMA church which has a very globally-minded outlook. One of my favorite Sundays each year occurs during our annual missions emphasis week, on which we have a 'parade of nations' in which flags from 50-60 different nations are announced and carried down to the front of the church, often by people who are native to that particular country and dressed in the traditional garb of that land. God is such a global God, and we have no right, really, to consider ourselves 'superior' to any other nation. Yes, we have many freedoms that other countries don't have. However, that in itself can be a curse and a blessing. [Oops...I think I crunched a few more toes...]

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  3. Hi Yvonne -
    I love reading your blog, and I admire you for "keeping it real", as you say. Your kids are absolutely beautiful! Selah, you & your family are in my prayers.

    I wanted to correct you on a statement you made in today's blog:
    "In a Catholic church the altar is behind the pulpit symbolizing that the people must go through the priest to get to God."

    In every Catholic church I've ever been in (and there have been many - I'm a lifelong Catholic), the pulpit is to the side of the altar, not in front; and Catholic teaching is that the only way to Heaven, i.e. God, is through Jesus Christ, not any priest - not even the Pope! During Mass, the priest stands facing the congregation, behind the altar, except for when he does the Gospel reading and preaches his homily, which is done from the pulpit. In newer churches, the pulpit is usually just a lectern. In older churches, the pulpit, also called the ambo, was elevated, and usually to the left of the alter (if you are standing facing the altar). It was elevated because it was from here that the priest read from the Gospel, the Word of God - the raised height of the pulpit indicated the importance of the fact that the Word of God is read from there.
    I hope you understand that my intent here is not to insult you, but just to clear up a misconception.
    God Bless you & your beautiful family!!
    Nancy

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    1. Oops:) I'm not often in a catholic Church.... I know in the Russian Orthodox church it's like that (or at least the one I went in) and I thought it was like that in a RC church.
      But aren't the altars and communion table behind the pulpit? I appreciate the help, I'm trying to remember because i do know that the placement of everything is meaningful. I think in the evangelical world, our pastors are not school any about the placement of church furniture and the importance

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  4. Hi Yvonne -
    First, I'd like to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. Your kids are absolutely beautiful, and I admire you for "keeping it real", as you say. The world would be a better place if more people were as honest and frank as you are. Selah, you & the rest of your family are in my prayers.
    I'd also like to comment about something you wrote in your blog. You said, "In a Catholic church the altar is behind the pulpit symbolizing that the people must go through the priest to get to God."
    In Catholic churches (at least in all the ones I've been - and those are many . . . I'm a lifelong Catholic), the pulpit is typically to the left of the altar as you stand facing the altar. During Mass, the lector reads the two readings for that Mass, one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament. Then the priest who is saying the Mass goes to the pulpit, reads the Gospel reading, and preaches his sermon, or homily.
    In older churches, the pulpit is raised. This is to illustrate the importance of what comes from the pulpit - the Bible readings, especially the Gospel - the Word of God. In modern churches, the pulpit is usually just a lectern.
    Catholic teaching is that the only way to Heaven, i.e. God, is through Jesus Christ. No priest, not even the Pope himself, can assume that role.
    I hope you understand that my intention is not to upset you or insult your. I simply wish to clear up a misconception.
    God Bless you & your beautiful family!
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, you have said almost word for word what I would have said. As a life long
      Catholic, I have never seen a Catholic church with the altar behind the pulpit, and the only time I have ever heard some one say we need to go through the priest to get to God is when protestants have told me that is what Catholics believe. The altar and pulpit are deliberately side by side, because we encounter Jesus both in the proclamation of the scriptures and in the His Body and Blood on the altar.

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  5. Hi Yvonne! I've been following your blog since the accident but rarely comment, but had to on this one :) I'm a United Methodist pastor and have caught a lot of slack over the years from church members who want to elevate the flag in church to a place I'm not comfortable. At my last church someone even wrote the bishop complaining because I would not allow them to drape an American flag on the ALTAR! Yikes! When I got married, I had the flag removed from the sanctuary... Also for the same reason I'm not a fan of the Pledge of Allegiance ~ my allegiance is to God, not to any one country!!!

    Keep sharing what you believe ~ I may not always agree with everything you share, but I have a lot of respect for someone willing to be so transparent :)

    Praying for Selah and your sweet family :)
    Lauren

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  6. Hi Yvonne! I've been following your blog since the accident but rarely comment, but had to on this one :) I'm a United Methodist pastor and have caught a lot of slack over the years from church members who want to elevate the flag in church to a place I'm not comfortable. At my last church someone even wrote the bishop complaining because I would not allow them to drape an American flag on the ALTAR! Yikes! When I got married, I had the flag removed from the sanctuary... Also for the same reason I'm not a fan of the Pledge of Allegiance ~ my allegiance is to God, not to any one country!!!

    Keep sharing what you believe ~ I may not always agree with everything you share, but I have a lot of respect for someone willing to be so transparent :)

    Praying for Selah and your sweet family :)
    Lauren

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    1. Gosh! YOu get what I'm saying! I love UM!

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