Thursday, March 20, 2008

Perhaps little peace symbols at each station

The Episcopal Church apparently still has too many adherents and are actively looking for ways to shrink their membership. Christianity Today has an article how the Episcopalians view the Stations of the Cross as passé compared to the United Nations plan to wipe out poverty, so they're substituting "the Stations of the Millennium Development Goals."

The church's Episcopal Relief and Development agency created a liturgy based on the United Nations plan to eliminate extreme poverty and other global ills, and sent e-mail to church leaders encouraging its use "in lieu of the traditional Stations of the Cross service."

Mike Angell of the denomination's Office of Young Adult and Higher Education Ministries designed the stations for a September 2007 young adult conference. While the traditional Stations of the Cross meditation has 14 stations (though this has varied through church history), the Episcopalian Stations of the Millennium Development Goals liturgy has only eight stations, one for each goal.

My question would be, when did the Episcopalians become the Lions Club? The whole point of Christianity is the Death and Resurrection of Christ. The Stations of the Cross is the central story of Christianity. To trivialize it and to make the meaning of Good Friday and Easter nothing more than another social work conference is to rob the faithful of the real meaning of Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross. He was Sacrificed for our sins, not a meals-on-wheels program.

Each station includes "activities and worship experiences for the liturgy." For station four, the church's document suggests, "Provide black and white drawings or outlines of children's faces. Have pilgrims color the faces. While the group is coloring, ring a bell every fifteen seconds to recognize that another child died from a preventable water-borne illness."

At the end of each station, the group is to pray a modified version of the Eastern Orthodox prayer known as Trisagion in which "Have mercy on us" is changed to "Transform us / That we might transform the world."

"There has been a little controversy about the Stations of the MDGs," said Luke Fodor, network coordinator for the church's relief arm. "At Episcopal Relief and Development, we're here to just take care of problems. We're not interested in theological discussions or politics in the church. We're to take care of the least of these, and that's our mandate. We [at ERD] didn't create this; we produced it for churches to use as they see fit."
Not interested in theology? Then why are you a church organization? Or is the religion merely a way of passing the collection plate for your causes?

What profits a religion that it would take on the cares of the world if it stops saving souls?

(ht: Kevin Fischer)