"All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning."
1. The fact that he was able to stand proved that he was not falling down drunk.
2. I wonder if he meant for them to "come back later tonight" to see "serious drinking."
Today we at ECOOS had a post Pentecost meeting during which the vestry presented a brief description of the budget YTD. The good news is that heading into the summer months, we are only $500.00 short. The bad news is that attendance usually drops during the summer as does plate income. We were reminded that the budget was trimmed by $100,000 for 2009 because of a decrease in pledge income. A look back at giving trends and average Sunday attendance for the years up to and including 2007 is found here. This shows a steady rise in income despite a flat or declining Sunday attendance. There was also an interesting rise in baptised members during between 2003 and 2007 that does not jive with the Sunday attendance trend.
I don't think the nefarious and rarely attended "Not Another Episcopal Church Blog" has any thing to do with the numbers. After all, this blog started in June of 2006.
Maybe those baptised members are attending Sunday School and skipping the service. I don't think that has changed, but how is Sunday school doing? (More on that later).
Nor do I accept the rationalization that "All the mainstream denominations are in decline." The Word of God is as powerful today as it was for the Apostles at the time of the Pentecost. The "mainstream" Episcopal Church may have some hidden costs that are keeping people from coming in to hear the Word spoken, praised, and worshipped.
The late Dr. Peter Toon in "Episcopal Innovations 1960-2004" points out the changes this particular mainstream church has taken that weaken the Church's position on things such as sin, divorce, atonement, the Person of Christ, even the Holy Trinity. Many of these things lay in the current "Book of Common Prayer" which since 1979 has indoctrinated an entire generation of Sunday worshippers to a more liberal theology. One small example is the more "inclusive" language in the psalter changing the KJV "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them." to the BCP 1979 "Happy are the people whose strength is in you! whose hearts are set on the pilgrims' way.." (Psalm 84).
Could there also be a cost to the liberal theology we sometimes hear preached such as today's quick reference during the sermon to God as mother?
Could there be a cost to the silence of the congregation when presented with the request to increase their pledge payments? Could there be a cost to the silence in response to the mention that a line of credit from the bank was considered at one point to pay the bills?
Pent up costs accumulate and some day come due with interest, especially to the disinterested.