Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dedication of Sanctuary Flags

The Prayer:

Almighty God, we thank you that you have put it into the hearts of your people to make offerings for your service, and have been pleased to accept their gifts. Be with us now and bless us as we set apart these flags to remember our founding in the United States of America and in the Episcopal Church to your praise and glory and in memory of Anthony T. Gadzinski (a WWII Navy veteran), Hattie Gadzinski (who worked in a war factory making parachutes), in honor and memory of Navy Seal Team Six and in honor of the ministry of the Rev. Kurt J. Huber; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Symbolism:

The American Flag is what would have hung in our church at its birth – It has 15 stars and 15 stripes, the two additional stars and stripes, approved by the United States Congress's Flag Act of 1794, represent Vermont and Kentucky's entrance into the Union. It is best known as the Star Spangled Banner Flag as it flew over Ft. McHenry during the war of 1812 and Francis Scott Key wrote his famous poem which would become our national anthem with that flag in mind. It wasn’t until 1818 when congress changed the flag to 20 stars (for all the states at that time) and reduced the stripes to 13 to represent the original 13 colonies; for each new state admitted to the union, a new star would be put on, now numbering 50.

The Episcopal Church flag was adopted in 1940 by the General Convention (first conceived in 1918 by the Diocese of Long Island.) The large, red cross that divides the flag is a cross of St. George, the cross of the Church of England, and it represents our ties with our mother church. There are nine small crosses in the upper left quadrant arranged in a St. Andrew's cross, the cross of the Church of Scotland, for it was bishops of the Church of Scotland who agreed to lay hands on Samuel Seabury, ordaining him our first bishop. This cross honors the part the Church of Scotland played in the birth of our church. Each of the nine small crosses that comprises the St. Andrew's cross represents one of the original nine dioceses that in 1789 founded the Episcopal Church (including Connecticut). The colors each have a symbolic meaning: Red is for the blood Christ shed for us and for the lives of the martyrs of our faith; White is the color of purity. The blue of the upper left hand field, is not the deep ocean blue of the American flag, but the light blue of the sky, used often for the clothing of the Blessed Virgin. It is often called Madonna blue because it represents the human nature of Our Lord which He received from His mother.

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