Have you decided what to wear this Wednesday?
If you have, scrap it. If you haven’t, congratulations on being normal.
Either way, you’re going to need to wear red.
This Wednesday 23rd November is #RedWednesday, an initiative from Aid to the Church in Need in the UK. They’re asking everyone to wear red and pray for the persecuted Church.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international organisation under the guidance of the Holy Father to provide “pastoral assistance to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened.” An important part of their job today is simply reminding people, particularly in the Western world, that yes, Christians are persecuted. These suffering Christians deserve the same fundamental freedoms of religion as anyone else.
One way to do this is #RedWednesday, a day to wear red and to pray for the persecuted Church.
But I know, this is very short notice. You want to help the Church but you’ve also planned out your outfits for the rest of the week, right?
That’s where I come in with a suggestions…
1. Channel your inner Audrey Hepburn. Red dress? Check. Red shawl? Check. Red shoes? Check. Magnificent marble staircase for dramatic entrance? Double check.
2. Steal an Aussie surf lifesavers shorts. This is best done when they are out rescuing a tourist who thought “rips” were a good thing.
3. If you’re in a cooler climate, make like Carmen Sandiego for the day with a red coat and matching red hat. It doesn’t seem like it but this striking combination will render you very difficult to find.
4. Break out the Christmas sweaters a month early. Just charming!
5. Or show up late to your own Halloween party as Po. (Is that Po? Or Tinky Winky? I can never keep the Teletubbies straight.)
6. Allow yourself to be seduced by the dark side and join the Emperor’s Imperial Guard. Everything that transpires will be according to his design.
7. Or bluff your way into the Liverpool team for the day. Just try not to be that guy on the far right of the photo.
8. Spend the day in a British telephone booth.
9. Ask Princess Mary if you can borrow her ruby parure. Because yes, you definitely need it. Need I tell you!
10. Convince the pope to make you a cardinal and then find out wherever Dolan got that hella brilliant ferraiolo from. Red batmen capes are so in right now.
Okay, I’m being a little facetious.
(A little, you ask? Okay, I’m being quite facetious.)
Wearing red on Wednesday, and more importantly, praying for the persecuted Church is a serious matter.
Our brothers and sisters are suffering. Aid to the Church in Need estimates that today, around 334 million Christians are being persecuted across the world. The 20th Century saw more Christian martyrs than the previous 19 centuries combined and if the 21st continues the way it started, that unenviable record will soon be broken.
This persecution transcends ecclesial and denominational boundaries. The enemies of Christ don’t care if you’re Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or anything else. They just hate Christ and anyone who confesses His Name. This is the new ecumenism in the blood of martyrs.
Sadly, Christians make unpopular victims these days. Governments in the post-Christian Western world have consistently ignored and sidelined the serious human rights abuses suffered by Christians. They refuse to protect vulnerable Christian communities or even acknowledge that the brutal attacks on Christians by Islamic State, along with other religious minorities in the region, are a type of genocide.
Will something like wearing red wake up the Western world to the reality of the persecuted Church? Perhaps not, but it’s somewhere to start. (You can always join in on social media with the hashtag #RedWednesday.)
What will be more effective is praying. We have a Heavenly Father who is always attentive to the prayers of His people. He tells us to expect persecution (Mark 13:13), to pray for the persecutors (Mt 5:44), and to remember that one member of the Body suffers, we all suffer (1 Co 12:26).
Our God hears our prayers and is always close to poor, the suffering, and brokenhearted.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17, 18)
Pray for the persecuted. Pray for the persecutors. Pray for world leaders and for the unity of all Christians against violence and oppression.
And wear red.