Faith, patriotism, hope, or opportunity? Or all the above?
If you find your way inside the La Lomita Mission along the Rio Grande River in Mission, TX; your will find relics along this altar of faith and maybe freedom. As I walked through the door, I found myself in a worshipful position, quietly walking down the center aisle observing each pew.
La Lomita Mission’s doors were wide open for any and all to visit, worship, pray, and reflect. This day’s reflection, the intersection of faith and freedom. Many people would look at the little American Flag placed on the cross as disparaging act against the sanctity of the Lord’s house. I have found myself inside many discussions seeking to understand those who feel strongly that the United States of America’s Flag should fly inside their churches. Many of those supporters of the the flag placed in the church are veterans who have served this great nation we call home. Many that oppose feel that this very representation of freedom should be placed in a different context, allowing the sanctuaries to act as sanctuary, a place for us to connect with God; removing government from our faith conversation.
I have been reflecting on my time in McAllen, Texas and this picture keeps coming back to mind. Not because of the visible representation of the a flag placed at Christ’s feet, but trying to discern the meaning. I wonder, if the flag is not appropriate place inside a church’s sanctuary, is it appropriate to discuss and advocate for public policy from inside those walls?
While attending Calvary Baptist Church, I sat and noticed the many different people inside the church, a large mixture of Anglo, Hispanic, Latino, Filipino, and Black worshipers. I listened to the mixture of traditional worship with a contemporary approach to music. I heard from the senior minister’s sermon a call for advocacy supporting children’s s rights and support of foster care. I noticed inside the sanctuary the only flag was the Christian Flag; the flag representing all Christianity popular among Protestant churches in North America, Africa, and Latin America.
The more I ponder this little flag hanging in La Lomita Mission, I wonder…who placed it at Christ’s feet? Was it someone advocating that the United States of America’s Flag should be present in this church’s place of worship? Was it someone trying to make a statement, one of faith or country?
The more I pondered these questions, I thought about a video I watched by 84 Lumber. This video showcased the visible passage of a mom and daughter traveling from their country of origin to the United States of America’s southern border wall. Along the way, the little girl picked up material along the way, collecting three different colors, each night by the fire stitching something together. As they arrived at the border wall, they noticed how big the wall stood as a representation of hope; the little girl handed her mom a United States of America’s Flag on a stick. They were traveling for this hope, this opportunity, this great passage to a better life.
I wonder, do you think they equate the passage of faith with their passage of opportunity. I wonder if someone who crossed the Rio Grande from their country of origin placed this United States of America’s Flag at Christ’s feet, bringing together to symbols of faith and hope? I will never know, but I do know we should wonder and discern people’s contextual intentions, understanding their faith and how it aligns with their patriotism. Many like to keep church and state separate, some just do not know how to separate. How should we as Christians consider these symbols in our own journey as we live in a time of hard lines.
Maybe this is an opportunity to have larger conversations, building our own bridges with conversation as those visible walls are placed around us. I have many questions, is this a picture of faith, patriotism, hope, or opportunity? Or all the above?