July 2021 Connect Newsletter
July is a month which, in the past, has been associated with patriotism, vacations, youth camp and Vacation Bible School. I saw a poster for “Vacation Bible Adventure” at a local church recently.
I remember fondly my childhood experiences at Vacation Bible School. It was more academic back then. It was more like school, less like adventure, but lots of fun. I recall VBS when it was two weeks long with a commencement ceremony on the evening of the last day. Parents and grandparents attended and rejoiced over all the crafts accomplished, scripture memorized, and songs learned.
Do you remember the pledge to the Christian flag? “I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and the Savior for whose kingdom it stands, one brotherhood, uniting all mankind in service and love.” This was the original version, which later some denominations revised to say, “one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe.”
The origin of the Christian flag (according to Wikipedia):
The Christian Flag was first conceived on September 26, 1897, at Brighton Chapel on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York in the United States. The superintendent of a Sunday school, Charles C. Overton, gave an impromptu lecture to the gathered students, because the scheduled speaker had failed to arrive for the event. He gave a speech asking the students what a flag representing Christianity would look like. Overton thought about his improvised speech for many years afterward. In 1907, he and Ralph Diffendorfer, secretary of the Methodist Young People’s Missionary Movement, designed and began promoting the flag. With regard to the Christian symbolism of the Christian Flag:
The background is white, representing peace, purity and innocence. In the upper corner is a blue square, the color of the unclouded sky, emblematic of heaven, the home of the Christian; also a symbol of faith and trust. in the center of the blue is the cross, the ensign and chosen symbol of Christianity: the cross is red, typical of Christ’s blood.
The Christian Flag intentionally has no patent, as the designer dedicated the flag to all of Christendom. Fanny Crosby wrote the words to a hymn called “The Christian Flag” with music by R. Huntington Woodman. Like the flag, the hymn is free use. On the Sunday nearest 26 September 1997, the Christian Flag celebrated its one hundredth anniversary.
Do you remember the pledge to the Bible? “I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s holy word, and will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God.” I remembered this one easier than the pledge to the Christian flag.
Perhaps this is all nostalgia, but maybe this is a heritage that needs to be resurrected. Many people have more time in the summer to concentrate on learning about God and the Christian faith. In recent years, I am aware of families who have sponsored back yard Bible clubs. I believe there was immense value and a long-lasting impression which VBS brought to us children and youth. Some of us still remember the songs we learned, and The Word is hidden in our hearts.
I wish you a wonderful month of July as our country begins to reopen and heal. May you find personal healing too.