November 6, 2017

A Shining Response

There is a lot of anger, confusion and just plain disrespect flying around in the world these days. One big chunk of it recently flew right through a newly refurbished and protected stained-glass window at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan, Kansas.

Earlier this year, the people of St. Paul’s gave generously to a capital campaign, exceeding their goal to accomplish much-needed restoration in their historic home of worship and ministry. Then one afternoon, someone threw a piece of concrete at a stained glass window featuring two fish. The blow shattered the protective glass and destroying several of the window’s colored panels and iron work.

In announcing the vandalism to the congregation, Rev. A. Patrick Funston, rector, urged people not to think of the incident as a reason to hunker down in bitterness toward the downtown church’s neighborhood. Instead, he urged them to consider it a reminder of our world's brokenness, in this uplifting message:

This is a violation of our building and might darken us toward our neighborhood and community, but I entreat you, do not let it.

The fish has symbolized Christ and the Christian community since the earliest days of the Church. When you take the first letters, in Greek, of the phrase: "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior," it spells out ICHTHYS, Greek for "Fish."

In the Gospel of John, we hear the story of Jesus taking five barley loaves and two fishes and using them to feed a multitude. Our mission in Manhattan is fish-shaped, it's ministry and relationship that is centered on and empowered by ICHTHYS, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. Our small offerings of time and relationship are blessed by our Lord and multiplied. Now more than ever, we witness to and celebrate our place in this neighborhood.

Even historic windows can be repaired. When we are reminded of the world's darkness, we should claim more forcefully our role as representatives of the light. How do we draw closer to our neighborhood in light of this event?

Join the team at the Encore Shop [ ministry providing clothing and household items] or Happy Kitchen [feeding ministry], start a new ministry or take an afternoon to walk around the neighborhood to meet people as a representative of Christ and of the Episcopal Church; these are our responses, not darkness. – Fr. Patrick Funston

How is your congregation shining Christ’s love towards its neighbors – even those who ignore or threaten your presence?