St. Andrew’s Ingathering Appeal 2013

by Ken Pitts, Senior Warden

I want to tell you about my distress. (This is, after all, all about me.) I will detail a few of those things that wound me and, indeed, wound us all. And much exists that insults our existence as the Church.

I will then suggest a couple of things we might do to ameliorate some of my distress, and I know you all want to make me feel better.

Ultimately, however, I want to point to Christ as a real and present curative for what ails me and us.

Firstly, why do I have distress? Why do I suffer? Why do I have pain? And not the physical kind. I have a constant companion since birth, a heart pain, a soul pain, which seems to never go away.

Our society, our culture, our neighborhoods, our schools, our Churches, our families suffer and quick cures do not exist. Me? I don’t have a quick cure. I have at best a mere palliative, not even a cure. Only something that relieves a few symptoms. I watch TV. I try to lose myself in my work. I have dinner with friends.

But, I’m deeply discouraged as a member of Christ’s Church and as a Christian.

I think Christians all know the sources of my distress. Who can’t list them? They have come upon us at a glacial pace but the weight of them exceeds what we can stand.

Ken’s Distress 1: American traditional mainline denominations have largely abandoned our traditional Christian faith. Undermined by a creeping secularism, our schools, colleges, and universities no longer teach but indoctrinate. I can list hundreds of examples but I will pick only one: Sex Week at Yale University during which porn stars are welcomed to Yale to demonstrate their craft.

Ken’s Distress 2: Entertainment has devolved into a digital form of violence and circus. Grand Theft Auto. Violent video games, pornography, and rap music extolling thug culture now displace wholesome movies, theater, music, and family life in general, following culture’s heels like well trained dog.

Ken’s Distress 3: Persecution of Christ’s Church occurs daily worldwide. Kirsten Powers lately wrote in the Daily Beast that, “Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. Not so. The silence has been nearly deafening.”

Ken’s Distress 4: The rise of radical Islam directly challenges Christianity. Such we have not seen since the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

A few European stats:

  1. Islam is the most practiced religion in the United Kingdom.
  2. In London, more Muslims attend mosques on Friday than do Christians churches on Sunday.
  3. The only busy “church” in Amsterdam is the church of Scientology, a six-story building in the thick of the city center.
  4. Only 7% of Dutch Catholics now go to Sunday Mass and 16% of children are baptized.
  5. In Austria, which was 90% Catholic in the 20th Century, Islam will be the majority religion among Austrian youth by 2050.
  6. In France, there are now more Islamic mosques being build – and more frequently so – than Catholic churches, and there are more practicing Muslims than practicing Catholics in the country.
  7. Overall, the total number of mosques in France has already doubled to more than 2,000 in the last 10 years.
  8. The best known French Islamic leader, Dalil Boubakeur, Rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, recently suggested that the total number of mosques should double yet again, to 4,000, to meet the growing demand.

In any event, our country, with the assistance of many others in the West, has fought two very expensive wars in terms of lives and treasure and with no relief in sight.

Ken’s Distress: 5: Our own loss of our church property and the current attacks on our new Diocese by TEC. No details needed.

Ken’s Distress 6: Our political system has devolved into a mass of polarization, crony Capitalism, identity politics, and acrimony. No details needed. Our public life, our political life have devolved into nothing but a litany of politically correct clichés. Orwell was a bit more than merely prescient.

But, seemingly none of this bothers our mainline Church leaders, our educators, our business leaders, or our politicians. They have it all under control. They know all about it and inform us of their carefully laid out plans to guide and care for us in these difficult times. We need only do all of the living, working, paying, and buying and leave all of the worry to them. Watch another violent movie or a ball game and all will emerge fit and fine in the morning.

 

Why all of this distress? Why do we suffer and why do we feel distress? Why the pain?

A smart marketer hawking dental services in our 21st Century would never emphasize the pain. They promise results pain-free. No one emphasizes suffering and distress. But the New Testament is replete with reminders that we have a hard road ahead, and we have history to inform us of what it has taken to get thus far. Christ told us we would suffer. The Apostles told us we would have distress. The church Fathers likewise.

I would remind you that, like Saint Paul, we complete the sufferings of Christ.

Col 1:21-29:

Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him—if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for His body, that is, the church. I have become its servant, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints. God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me. [Emphasis: mine.]

This little Church has a mission in that we must help complete the sufferings of Christ.

So please carefully pray and determine what your pledge should be this coming year and turn in your pledge cards. We need your help to fulfill the sufferings of Christ.