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Sermon by Father Bob Wyatt

“I’m ashamed of Christianity, but never of Christ,” the Facebook headline screams. The blog, from the progressive Evangelical publication Sojourners (https://sojo.net/node/226843) continues:

“As a child, I was taught that Christianity essentially meant being like Christ, loving Jesus and emulating His life to the best of my ability. But as I got older this message became infinitely more complex.

“Instead of loving our enemies, it became OK to kill them, especially if they lived in the Middle East and were Muslim. ‘Thou shall not kill’ soon only applied to unborn babies, but not to the death penalty, war, or gun violence. ‘Love your neighbor’ was no longer relevant to particular people — immigrants and refugees — and the spiritual motto of ‘Do unto others and you would have them do unto you’ wasn’t practiced with our political opponents.’”

Of course, we at St. Mark’s, we in the Episcopal Church, can take pride that this version of toxic Christianity bears no similarity to ours. But, as our famous Diocesan Convention keynote speaker, the journalist Ray Suarez, reminded us Friday, that fact is largely irrelevant. We are tarred by the same charges or judgmentalism and hypocrisy as other Christians. At the same time, our decline in numbers and influence is precipitous. And much of what I love about the Episcopal Church – Anglican chant, a liturgy that is the glory of the English language, stained glass, million-dollar organs, superlative choirs, the most educated laity and clergy in Christendom, and solid, seeming indestructible stone churches has not brought a throng of millennials rushing through our red doors.

Yes, we still have pockets of success. Yes, in my native South – where the bigger parishes have budgets five times greater than St. Marks – in my native South, the decline has proceeded much more slowly. And, yes, in the Western suburbs, Chicago’s own mini-Bible Belt, people still go to church in greater numbers and smile when they see my clerical collar.” To read this sermon in its entirety, please click here.