This week-end, among other events, we celebrated Flag Day on the 14th. Most people don’t realize that the day commemorates the adoption of our flag as the official symbol of the US back in 1777 by the second Continental Congress. Although it is not an official federal government holiday, many states hold parades and activities to celebrate. New York and Massachusetts are among the states that have held celebrations for the longest time – and Quincy, MA has held a parade every year since 1952 – claiming the longest continuous streak in the country.
Certainly the flag has become a symbol of our nation and our unity. Even in times when there is internal strife within the country, national pride takes over in the face of international turmoil and we band together as one. Remember 9/11? US flags were everywhere – and how about the 4th of July? Of course, we see thousands of flags lining every parade route in the nation.
Then, we can remember the Olympics. Every time the US won a medal, the flag was hoisted and if we took gold, the national anthem was played as well. Who doesn’t get a little choked up seeing that? The most famous image of the flag was when it was draped over the shoulders of the US hockey team when they beat Russia in the finals back in 1980 – they were called the “Miracle on Ice” team.
And baseball – I remember my father and his eyes welling up with tears each time he heard the national anthem and saw the flag at a baseball game. He had a real affinity for liking to see the flag – I think that is common with so many people who have served in our military.
The people of God also had ways to show their pride for the groups they identified with. Back in the days of the Old Testament, flags were referred to as banners. And they were bright and made of colors used to signify meaningful things to the group. There are Christian banners in use today, but tribes, countries and even families also have banners to identify themselves. Our verse for this evening highlights one of the places in the Old Testament when these identifying banners were mentioned. We are told, near the beginning of the Old Testament, from Num. 2:2 “The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family.”
My encouragement this evening is that you will rally around and identify with a banner that is important to you. Whether that is the US, or Christianity or some other group, my prayer is that you will realize that people have given sacrifices for you to be able to enjoy the freedoms that we have today. Have a great day in the Lord grace and peace…