THE BLESSING AND DEDICATION OF FLAGS.
Introduction: Consecration, Dedication and Blessing.
The terms Consecration, Dedication and blessing are often confused. For example Ken Stevens ("Ceremonies of the Scout Movement" The Boy Scouts Association, London 1962 page 37) describes "Dedicated Flags" and flags which are "Blessed". The Right Reverend Pat Leonard DSO MA makes a distinction between terms "Consecrated" and "Dedicated" ("Scouts' Owns, C Arthur Pearson Limited, London Fifth Edition Revised 1960 page 86) Ken Stevens wrongly advises that a form of ceremony for a blessing is provided by Pat Leonard in the book "Scouts' Own". What Pat Leonard provided in his book (in all editions) was a form of dedication. Stevens appears to have mistaken Pat Leonard's two definitions as similar to his own. The Boy Scouts Association leaflet "Flags" incorrectly used the term Consecrated Flags on the back page when the heading on that page is "Dedicated Flags".
To clarify the situation below is a definition of the terms:
The setting aside a thing or person for Divine Service alone. It would be very rare that a Scout Flag was considered in need of Consecration, and would imprison the flag for use at Church alone. The act of Consecration is considered irrevocable.
Dedication, is a blessing, where an object is blessed, or dedicated to a particular purpose. It is a formal blessing and when considering the dedication of Scout Flags, such flags "must be treated with the greatest reverence at all times." They "should not be moved uncased without an escort" and not be used in camp. (Quotations from the Official Handbook of the British Boy Scouts and the and Boy Scouts Association POR 1959).
An informal way of reminding Christians, that God is invited into all our lives and that we are committed to him. In all prayers of blessing, the main point is that an object is blessed in order that Christian may follow Christ more closely.
In this publication, two Ceremonies or Rites are provided; A simple "Blessing" of a Scout Flag, and the "Dedication" of a Scout Flag.
THE BLESSING OF A SCOUT FLAG.
Note: This is a simple and short act, and may be part of a Scouts Own, or Church Service.
Minister: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
Minister: The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
Minister: Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, whose Church is an army in battle array, bless + this flag. Grant that all those rallying to this flag, may follow the example of Saint George who rallied to the cause of the Lord God of Host. May those who march under the flag do battle with the forces of evil, and in victory at last, may they triumph in heaven. Through you, Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns for ever.
FORM OF SERVICE FOR THE DEDICATION OF SCOUT FLAGS IN CHURCH.
The Flag to be dedicated should be laid on the Altar, Communion Table,
or other suitable place. The donor of the Flag may accompany the Scoutmaster,
who should stand at the chancel steps facing the Minister. A colour-party
for each Flag consisting of a Patrol Leader as Colour-bearer, and two Scouts,
will advance to the chancel steps.
(As an alternative the Flag(s) may be placed on the Altar before the Service begins).
Minister: Dear Friends in Christ, it has been an established custom
that people and nations make for themselves, symbols of their unity, and
of their loyalty to God and to thier government..
In accordance with this custom and acknowledging God to be our Leader and Guide, we meet together to ask God's blessing on this Flag (these Flags), which will represent to us our duty to Him and to our brothers and sisters especially those who belong to our Troop (Crew, Pack etc.).
We therefore ask God of his kindness to make this Flag (these Flags) a sign to those who follow it (them) of His presence at all times, that our faith in Him who is our King and Lord may be increased.
The Minister proceeds to the Altar to dedicate the Flag(s)
In the faith of Jesus Christ we dedicate this Flag (these Flags), that it (they) may be a sign of our duty to God and to our Troop (Crew, Pack etc.), in the Name of the + Father, and of the + Son, and of the + Holy Spirit.
The Minister then presents the Flag to the donor (if there is one),
who will hand it to the Scoutmaster, who then delivers it to the Patrol Leader
(or other bearer) who receives it on bended knee.
The congregation will then knee (or adopt a posture of prayer) and the Troop(s) and colour-party remain standing with the Flag at the 'carry'.
Minister: Let us pray.
O Lord who rulest over all, we ask that you will accept our service this day. + Bless what we have blessed in Your Name and we ask that Your gracious favour rests on those who shall follow this Flag (these Flags) now committed to their trust. Make them worthy to be called Your sons (and/or daughters), and ever find in You courage to uphold this trust, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Minister: O Lord God, Who from Your throne can see all the nations
of the earth, bless our country that it may continue to be a place and a
people to serve You until the end of time. Grant that all who live beneath
our Flag be reminded of the threefold cross, that they may work for the good
of others following the example of Him Who died upon the cross in the service
of mankind, Your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The colour-party will then advance to the Altar with the Flag at the 'carry', and stand facing the Altar while the National Anthem is sung.
THE NATIONAL ANTHEM
The Minister gives this blessing:
Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no one, evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour all; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be upon you, and remain with you, now and forever.
© Copyright: The Reverend Michael Foster 2000