In the north east of England, while coal was being mined,there was a tradition of pit banners. These have the name of the pit together with one or more pictures on it. They were designed to both be displayed on a wall and to be carried at the front of a group of miners at events like Durham Big Meeting or to give its official name the Miner’s Gala.
Early one July morning the pit banner leads a procession that goes around the village. You its coming because you can hear the brass band that is also part of the procession. After that the banner and the entire procession goes to Durham. There they meet up with other procession from other villages and they all come together to form a huge procession that snakes its way through the city centre and onto the race course. At the race course there is a stage for political speeches plus various other forms of entertainment like fairground rides. There have been no working pits in County Durham in the 21st century but I still saw and heard this traditional event in 2013.
Church banners can be used in a similar ways. They can be carried through the streets as part of a praise march. They can be carried by the church group as part of the parade for the town gala. Then, afterwards they can be brought home and put on the wall and used as a decoration that people coming in from the street will recognise. They can also be carried around a church as part of the worship. For example, a banner like the one with the word Jesus on can be lifted higher during a song that includes words like “lift Jesus higher”.
A good banner is not just decorative but gives out a message. As such, they can be used evangelistically so when a newcomer walks in they can read that Jesus loves them. This is one reason why they need to be divinely inspired, as only God knows what messages people need to be able to read when they walk into His House. Anyway, would you expect someone to decorate your house without asking you what you wanted them to do?
Banners are also means of provoking thought. As such, banners can be used to prompt prayer on a particular topic or for a particular place. Banners are not only one way of doing this as some people do this by having maps photos or even the flag of a particular nation on the wall.
Other reasons for using banners include
- to declare the attributes of God in the heavenlies
- to celebrate and honour God
- to lift the Name of God into the heavenlies
- to declare victory over our enemies
- to rally the troops in battle
- to identify who we belong to and what we are a part of
- to put the enemy to flight
- to declare the truth of the word
- to make his praise glorious