taking the words of Jesus seriously

Earlier this week Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber tweeted a call for a liturgy for the pastors who have and are, in an act of rejecting Christian nationalism, removing American flags from their churches.  

This hit close to home for me, as my church, pastored by my father, removed the flag from our sanctuary a year or so ago.  I did not think this should have been a contentious issue—it seemed bizarre to me that the flag had ever found its way into the sanctuary in the first place, but it caused intense division and we lost long-term members over it.  I was angry.  This church was a place where I have found solace and comfort that I had previously thought absent from Christianity, and it pained and angered me to see people I loved so divided over the removal of a flag from a holy space where it never should have been.  

This distinctly unholy American mingling of love of God and love of country has tarnished the reputation of the church and muddied the message of the Gospel.  If we worship our nation—and make no mistake, the level of neglectful patriotism demanded and adhered to by many Americans is, indeed, worship—and choose to be willingly blind to our collective sins, we are no better than the rich man that spoke to Jesus, and could not bear to part with his wealth.  If we choose patriotism over peacemaking and confuse American values for biblical ones, we have forfeited our witness.  We have lost our saltiness, and cannot be made salty again without a fundamental shift in values. If we want to be taken seriously by our neighbors, if we want—as we claim—to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we must do better. 

Liturgy for the Flag Removers

God our Father

Meet us in these spaces

That are holy 

And wholly yours

On American soil, yes,

But soil that was first 

Shawnee and Cherokee and Chickasaw.


God our Mother

God who crosses borders by night 

And cradles babies in her arms

On the cold floors of detention centers 

Show us our sins.

Show us the harm we have done

By both our action and inaction.

May our hearts break at the families

We have torn apart and 

The neighbors we have abandoned. 

May our broken hearts move us to 

Tired arms and calloused hands.

READ: Nationalism and the Undermining of Global Missions

Holy Spirit, 

Remind us that there is 

No such thing as a Christian nation.

Do not allow us to hide behind

Flags and banners 

And disguise atrocity 

And cruelty 

And ignorance

And selfishness

As patriotism.


Remind us that you are not

An American God

Clothed in red white and blue

Any more than you are a 

Ugandan God

Chinese God

Chilean God

Russian God

Guatemalan God.


Remind us of your teachings:

To love our enemies

And turn our cheeks

And feed the poor

And welcome the stranger. 

To be peacemakers

And wound-binders

And servants. 


Remind us that you walked in sandals

Not cowboy boots

And that pulling ourselves up 

By our bootstraps 

Was not part of the beatitudes. 

There is no space for manifest destiny 

In the Good News of the Gospel.


Lord have mercy

On we who have sought 

Hollow solace 

In the shadow of the flags

That stand (imposters)

On sanctuary stages. 

May we not litter our 

Sacred spaces with

The flags that we do not

(Ought not)



Christ have mercy 

On our American dreams. 

Replace them with

Hunger for righteousness 

And justice.

May we chase after peace 

In lieu of picket fences. 



About The Author


Meagan Ruby Wagner lives in the Midwest with her husband, their three children, three dogs, and a multitude of barn cats.  She writes about motherhood and faith.  When she is not chasing three small children around, she is usually poking around in the garden. 

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