Something strange is happening. Wherever I look houses are draped with a while flag emblazoned with a red cross. Cars whoosh by carrying smaller versions of the same banner. For a Welshman it's all a bit bewildering. What's it all about?
My inkling is that this outbreak of English patriotism could have something to do with a certain football tournament currently taking place in South Africa, but then again I might be wrong.
Apparently the Cross of St. George has been recognised as the English flag since the Middle Ages. That's what it said on Wikipedia anyway. Let no one say that these articles are not properly researched.
The central feature of the flag is the Christian symbol of the cross. All around England the cross is flying high, which is a bit weird if you think about it. 1) Because England is supposed to be a "post-Christian society". And 2) Because at first glance the cross of Jesus is nothing to be proud of. After all, why celebrate that fact that an innocent man was horribly executed? Why make that event the symbol of a nation?
That God's own Son died on a cross in weakness and shame seems to be utterly foolish incomprehensible. But for those who believe, the cross of Jesus is the supreme revelation of the wisdom, power and love of God. He died not as another helpless victim of human cruelty, but as a substitute. Jesus died in the place of sinners so that we might be put right with God.
Christians are not ashamed of the cross of Jesus. It is the royal banner that rallies us to faith and action. However England do in the World Cup, those who follow the flag of Jesus can be assured that they will share in his victory over evil and death.
* An edited version of an article for July/August edition of News & Views, West Lavington Parish Magazine.