A Liturgy for Removing the Flag from your Sanctuary

Konrad Summers CC, “Countries of the Cross,” Santa Clarita, California, 2008.

May this symbolic action catalyze us into ever-deeper action to remove the nationalism and white supremacy still living in our communities and our world.

We hope that this liturgy can be used in both Canada and the United States (and indeed anywhere else), but we know that the histories and symbols are unique. Let this be an offering that can be edited, amended, altered, and made stronger in your own beloved community.

We gather in this sacred place,
declaring that symbols matter.
They reflect our dreams, our joy,
our courage, and our work.

We have come here today to remove
the flag from our worship space.
It is time. It is past time
to say that nationalism has
no place in our church.
Our allegiance belongs to God.

We acknowledge that for some of us
this may not be easy.
We name and honour those feelings as
part of the work of decolonization.

Oh God,
who is wider than our borders,
summon us to hear your voice
woven into history, echoing in this sanctuary,
whispering in our lives, and standing
among us in this moment.
May removing this flag today
be an act of liberation,
both for the communities and land
this flag has harmed,
may it also free you from the limits
we have placed upon you.

We begin by acknowledging the ways that the flag has been used as an instrument of violence, domination, and colonization. May we respond together: We name. We remember. This flag must come down.

This flag has glorified conquest and war.
We name. We remember. This flag must come down.

This flag has overseen the Doctrine of Discovery and violent Western expansion. We name . . .

This flag has served as justification for slavery and lynchings. We name . . .

This flag has been draped over white supremacists carrying the cross. We name . . .

This flag has flown proudly over prisons and deportation centres. We name . . .

This flag has sat on the desks in boarding schools and waved over the mass graves of children. We name . . .

This flag has encouraged patriotism, nationalism, supremacy, and the myth of individualism. We name . . .

This flag has presided over every decision made by the criminal injustice system – including the convictions of countless Black, brown, and Indigenous folks. We name . . .

This flag has watched over Wall Street and conspired with capitalism. We name . . .

Where else have you seen harm? Let us name aloud the places the flag has hurt our communities, these sacred lands, and our desires for justice. We respond: We name.
We remember. This flag must come down.

In naming, there is grief. Let us take a moment now to breathe into that grief.
To breathe into our own body.
To breathe into our collective body.

God, just as you have breathed into this space, breathe into us now. Let your Spirit, your breath, your courage enliven us and embolden us.

And now, we invite each person here to find a point of physical connection – either by holding a piece of the flag, or by touching the shoulder of someone else who is. Together, we take this flag down.

(In silence, all who wish to do so assist in removing the flag. If the liturgical space permits, walk the flag out of the sanctuary before continuing, then place an empty bowl in its place).

Friends, in this sacred silence, we pause, mindful of this new empty space. Let us allow for what wants to emerge. This bowl can remind us of the value of emptying out . . . of exorcising . . . of letting go.

In the week ahead, let us listen deeply…
for what is now possible . . .
for what has been freed . . .
for how we might take the next step of healing, reconciliation, and transformation . . .
for God’s call for this community.

When you return to the sanctuary next week, we invite you to bring with you a note to add to the bowl. On your note, please write or draw your ideas for what might now emerge from this space – spiritually and practically for us as a community. How might we move forward from here in tangible ways? Bring your actions, your visions, and your prayers.

Oh God, may our collective prayers offered through word and body be a response to your dreamings. And may this symbolic action catalyze us into ever-deeper action to remove the nationalism and white supremacy still living in our communities and our world. Amen.

Issue 62

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 62, Fall 2021, Dismantling White Theology.

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