David Virtue in the United States and his Canadian equivalent David “Samizdat” are like a couple of sad lonely old men who simply cannot stop gossiping about their ex-wives.
Well, at least, she is not quite dead but she soon will be. She is barely hanging on sustained in intensive care by failing life support. Curiously, these two prophets of doom take obsessive delight in sharing endless details about the poor woman’s demise.
But even more curiously, in spite of their dire predictions, the old woman stubbornly refuses to die. Despite repeated and frequent allegations that she is done, the church that the Desperate Daves keep trying to bury is remarkably resilient. She does not seem quite ready to give up the ghost, though both men would hasten to explain that she long ago gave up the Holy Ghost, hence, in their minds, her inevitable and imminent extinction.
And yet, yesterday morning, I entered one of these “dying” churches and sat at the beginning of worship with 26 children between the ages of 3 and 10. Asking them what we find inside when our hearts open, I was told immediately, that we find Jesus. Then I witnessed nine little girls singing an extraordinary rendition of “All Things Bright and Beautiful” masterfully melded with “Jesus loves me”, accompanied by members of the senior choir. After this musical presentation 35 children under the age of 12 went downstairs for Sunday School, while a dozen teenagers met for Bible study in the Youth Room, and five infants were lovingly cared for in the nursery.
During our service I heard a report of the extraordinary work we support in Haiti to provide care for children with serious disabilities, as well as health care, and education for the poor. I joined in prayer for a second Syrian family of four we are in the process of sponsoring to move to Canada. I passed the peace with the five family members from Syria we have already sponsored to come to Canada, for whom we continue to provide full financial, moral, and practical support.
Last night I gathered with 23 people to discuss prayer. During the week I will meet with at least 25 different people, as I do every week, for Bible study and prayer. This is without even considering the other gatherings associated with our community that will take place for prayer, Bible study, and Christian nurture associated without my involvement.
I know that a prayer chain in our community will hold the concerns of the world, the church, and the wider community in prayer through the week. There will be people from our community who go out into the streets in compassionate action and loving care for people on the margins of our society. And a group of four people will continue their preparations for a trip to Haiti to support the compassionate ministry among children in Port-au-Prince with which we have been associated for decades.
And I know our community is not unique.
If they were less interested in their fantastical projections into an imagined apocalyptic future based on vague trends from the past, the Desperate Daves might glimpse a little sunshine breaking through the clouds. If they could let go for a minute of their obsession with gloomy statistics, falling dollars, and failing buildings, and get out a little and experience some real Anglicanism in the Anglican Church of Canada, and I am sure in the Episcopal Church in the US, I know I could introduce the Desperate Daves to dozens of churches that are a long way from dying.
Perhaps these soothsayers trapped in their negative life-denying little world, might try following Paul’s advice. Instead of delighting in the “fake news” of death, they might focus their attention on
whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.(Philippians 4:8)
I promise the Desperate Daves that, if they peak out from behind their protective walls, they will find in the Anglicanism they are so happily killing off, a great deal that is true, honourable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Perhaps they might “think about these things” for a while, or, if that is too much to ask, at least leave their ex-wives in peace to carry on happily nurturing God’s people in their lively healthy communities of faith.