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Good News at CBS

[COMMENT:  The piece below by Fr. David Baumann is from the current (October 2006) newsletter of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Placentia, CA, where I attend and help out when needed.  The newsletter article refers to a renewal taking place. 

Last Sunday I was astonished at the stream of young adults coming out of church, a great many of them students or graduates of Biola U. nearby where I now teach, many of them married and with small children.   Of all Episcopal churches, CBS must have nearly the lowest in average age.   These are not "ordinary" young folks, they are some of the brightest, best educated, and articulate young Christians you will meet anywhere in what's left of Western Christendom.   God is doing something.  Pray that we will not miss the opportunity. 

I do not believe our present leadership (with just a few exceptions), spiritual or political, has any capacity to fight the spiritual war in which we are engaged.  They have all the live ammunition (truth, evidence), but they are not shooting.  Pathologically polite.  The other side has no live ammunition, but they are at least shooting blanks, and scaring our side to death with the noise. 

You can probably count on one hand the Christian leaders you know who are standing up with truth and grace to tell the world that, Yes, Jesus is Lord. 

That is beginning to change in many places around the country.  Just small green shoots sprouting up so far, but these will become the mighty oaks as some time in the future. 

Please pray for CBS and other places like it, and for the young folks who will fight the battle that our generations of the last century failed to fight -- and at much greater cost than we would have had to pay had we been willing. 

And get on board.  Age does not matter.  The first qualification is that you want to seek and to speak the truth -- at any cost to yourself.  Without that humility, you cannot be discipled in Christ.  That is the first step on the Way of the Cross -- give up your right to be right, and let the truth and the Lord of truth speak for themselves.   


{Update, July 25, 2010:  The picture below of the flood of young people at Church of the Blessed Sacrament is accurate -- except that, as I experienced the event through about 3 years steadily there, those young folks from Biola did not appear to understand the need for an offensive strategy, reaching out and challenging the secularized and now paganized world around us.  They seemed to stick for the most part to their own age group and fellow Biolans rather than mixing with other age and interest groups.  We need such well-prepared young folks, as they indeed are, but we need them to want to convert the world as well as establish a solid home base within which to live our own Christian lives.

The "other side" is garnering more and more political and coercive power.  And they are getting nastier and nastier, and will come knocking at the doors of our supposedly safe enclaves.  We must preempt them and go knocking at their doors.  See (or hear) sermon for July 25, 2010, "Have We, Like St. James, a Testimony?" }    E. Fox]

Dear friends in Christ,

 For several years, even as we have seen the unraveling of the Episcopal Church and the western churches in general, a number of my colleagues and I have had a conviction that there was a major renewal of orthodox Christianity coming the early 21st century. The past six and a half years of a presence within Blessed Sacrament of many young people bears witness to this conviction.

 Junior Warden Greg Herr regularly shares with me articles he has unearthed that have to do with Christian orthodoxy. They are always powerful and well worth reading. A few weeks ago he sent me an article by Colleen Carroll Campbell, who is a writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She had just done a year of research on the religious trends among the age group of about 18-35. As a result, she wrote a book called The New Faithful. Her conclusions are among the most heartening I have read for the 33 years I have been ordained. Here are some excerpts from her article:

 “A growing number of today’s young adults are adopting the teachings and traditions of an orthodox Christian faith. Their grassroots religious revival, which has been brewing for several years, is now manifesting itself more visibly. Private conversion experiences are evolving into public declarations of faith. Amorphous longing for God is developing into defined religious conviction. And the spiritual search of a growing number of young Americans is culminating in commitments to traditional religion and morality – commitments that have the potential to significantly impact the broader culture.

 “These young men and women have not seen too little of a secular, hedonistic society to understand its allure. They have seen too much to believe its promises. They have turned instead to an older promise, rooted in the traditions their parents rejected: the promise of a life guided by a transcendent vision and ordered by absolute truth.

 “These new faithful crave experiential knowledge of God and an emotional connection to Him. Most also hunger for sound doctrine and firm moral guidance. They ask tough questions and they expect serious answers. And unlike the Baby Boomers, who tended to reject the trappings and demands of orthodox religion, these new faithful gravitate to the most demanding forms of religious observance, the most intellectually rigorous faith formation, and the most ancient Church traditions.”

 We at Blessed Sacrament are blessed more than most of us can understand by seeing this very phenomenon within our own parish family with the great strength that we have. For more than half a dozen years, a large number of evangelical college students have worked in our life as Sunday School teachers, founders of the infant nursery, Vacation Bible School organizers, instructors in our karate program, delegates to the deanery and Diocesan Convention, successful evangelists, guest preachers, presenters at diocesan and parish programs, examples to our teenagers, prayer warriors, pastoral care givers and visitors, acolytes, vocationers to ordination, members of study groups, participants in discussion groups, writers, website managers, parish secretary, members of the vestry, clerks of the vestry, youth ministers, choir members, altar guild members, organizers of work parties, participants in the young marrieds group, trained spiritual directors, and more. These are just some of the ministries I can think of off the top of my head.

 If one is concerned about the future of the Episcopal Church, one need look no further than OUR OWN PARISH to see that all shall be well.

Cordially in Christ,    

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