I started using flags (banners) with my worship almost 4 years ago. I thought of King David dancing energetically before the Ark of the Covenant as it was brought into Jerusalem, and wanted to be able to get closer to that kind of freedom in worship. I had tried dancing before the Lord… Well, not really. I couldn’t get my feet to move (it’s like they were in concrete), except in a very sloppy version of the Holy Spirit two-step (for some reason, Pentecostals seem to have this bouncy thing they do when they are dancing). I had only ever seen women do liturgical dancing, and it looked way too feminine for me, plus it took a lot of coordination that I didn’t seem to have.
The picture above is of Tim waving a flag at a church service in July 2013. The picture below is from 2011, with his son Josiah in the background on electric guitar.
But it was fear that held me back the most — fear that people would laugh at me. Flag waving seemed to be a bit of a compromise. It didn’t seem to take a lot of coordination, guys did it (okay, so did women), and I was able to muster enough courage to at least try it.
With some practice, I figured out how to twirl the flag without getting it tangled. Yeah, they can get tangled up on themselves, especially heavier material or when the air conditioning at church catches them at unexpected moments. But the trick is to move your hand in a figure 8.
Eventually, I learned to stop letting the flag slip out of my hands and bounce off walls and people… And, I finally learned how to twirl the flag without it rolling up on itself (took about a year to figure that one out). You just half to spin the dowel rod with your fore finger while twirling the flag with your hand.
It took me a longer while to feel comfortable moving anything but my arms. Mostly people just walk if they want to move while doing flags… But you could conceive of turning your whole body or moving side-to-side or what not.
I ended up taking tai chi for a different purpose, but it had the side benefit that it gave me the confidence to move my feet and for that matter to use my free hand with the flag.
I think flag waving has helped me draw nearer to God and worship better. I often get a picture of the throne of God when I am dancing, and when I do, I often feel like I am worshiping before God himself, and that my worship is meaningful to him. I think that it is theologically true that all our worship is before God and is meaningful to him, but with the pictures of Jesus on his throne that I sometimes get while waving the flag, that intellectual, theological understanding becomes very personal and impacts my heart. I don’t know that I would have gotten those pictures apart from taking up flag waving.
And I had one experience in which I felt God’s tremendous appreciation of me personally, and of the sacrifice that flag waving often is. It felt like God drew the attention of all heaven to me, which was honoring and humbling.
I love flag waving! I love being at a church that encourages me to do it and gives me the freedom to do it. We often have 10 kids up front with me and usually 1 or 2 other adults waving flags.
I know a lot of people will ask, “Where is that in the Bible?” As I have looked for verses, I found a few that dealt with waving banners and flags. But these were generally under conditions related to war or victory, and I could not relate to them at a gut level when it came to why I wave a flag. I think that if I were looking for Bible verses that fit me for why I do flag waving, I would look in the Psalms and read the verses about dancing before the Lord. That is really what I do, and the heart of flag waving for me (it’s just that having a flag makes me forget that I’m dancing, so I don’t become so self-conscious, which defeats a heart of worship, which is God-conscious…)
- “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have… clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalms 30:11-12 (NLT)
- “May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory, flying banners to honor our God.” Psalms 20:5 (NLT)
- “Praise his name with dancing” Psalms 149:3 (NLT), also in Psalms 150:4