TUESDAY THE THIRTEENTH OF FEBRUARY 2018
* Absalom Jones *
Glory to the Father, who has woven garments of glory for the resurrection; worship to the Son, who was clothed in them at his rising; thanksgiving to the Spirit, who keeps them for all the saints; one nature in three, to God be praise. Amen.
( Syrian Orthodox Church )
After the toil and trouble,
there comes a day of rest;
after the weary conflict,
peace on the Saviour’s breast;
after the care and sorrow,
the glory of light and love;
after the wilderness journey,
the Father’s bright home above.
After the night of darkness,
the shadows all flee away;
after the day of sadness,
hope sheds her brightest ray;
after the strife and struggle,
the victory is won;
after the work is over,
the Master’s own word, "Well done."
After the hours of chastening,
the spirit made pure and bright;
after the earth’s dark shadow,
clear in the light of Light;
after the guiding counsel,
communion full and sweet;
after the willing service,
all laid at the Saviour’s feet.
After the pain and sickness,
the tears are all wiped away;
after the flowers are gathered,
no more of earth’s decay;
after the deep heart sorrow,
an end of every strife;
after the daily crosses,
a glorious crown of life.
( "Gospel Hymns No. 6" )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Today Saint Laika’s remembers Absalom Jones, the first African man to be ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Jones was born into slavery in 1746, and taught himself to read using the "New Testament." At the age of sixteen, he was sold to a store owner in Philadelphia, and continued his education with the help of the Quakers, who operated a night school. He saved his earnings and was able to buy his freedom in 1784.
Jones became a lay minister at Saint George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. He and others were so effective in encouraging blacks to join the church, that the white vestry made a decision that black members had to sit in the balcony, segregated from the white church members. On the Sunday after that decision had been reached, his prayer was interrupted when an usher sought to lead him up the stairs. Instead, he and other black members walked out the door of the church, never to return.
In 1791 Jones began holding religious services in Philadelphia. He wanted to found an African Congregation. He looked to the Episcopal Church for support and found it. The Bishop of Pennsylvania was very open to the idea and the African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas opened its doors in 1794.
Absalom Jones was ordained a deacon in 1795, and a priest in 1804. He was a powerful preacher. He denounced slavery, and warned the oppressors to “clean their hands of slaves.” To him, God was the Father, who always acted on “behalf of the oppressed and distressed.” But it was his constant visiting and mild manner that made him beloved by his own flock and by the community. Saint Thomas Church grew to over five hundred members during its first year.
He led an unsuccessful petition to the U.S. Congress to eliminate some of harsher provisions of the "Fugitive Slave Act." When yellow fever struck Philadelphia, white residents fled, but Jones and his friend and colleague Richard Jones organised a corps of black Philadelphians who helped nurse the sick, as well as bury the dead.
Jones was an example of persistent faith in God and in the Church as God’s instrument. He died on this day in 1818.
Scripture. In the fifth chapter of "Galatians," at the first verse, we read:
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
... for peace in the world.
... for people within our churches who are from ethnic minorities.
... for an end to racial hatred and prejudice, in particular, that which is found in our churches.
... for an end to institutional racism, in particular, that which permeates Christian institutions.
... for those who take care of the sick; for the safety of those who risk their own health in doing so.
... on this World Radio Day, for those who work in the radio industry. DETAILS
... for people living with Parkinson's disease.
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From a thanksgiving sermon by Absalom Jones, preached on the first of January, 1808, in Saint Thomas's Church, Philadelphia: on account of the abolition of the African slave trade, on that day, by the Congress of the United States:
The history of the world shows us, that the deliverance of the children of Israel from their bondage, is not the only instance, in which it has pleased God to appear in behalf of oppressed and distressed nations, as the deliverer of the innocent, and of those who call upon his name. He is as unchangeable in his nature and character, as he is in his wisdom and power. The great and blessed event, which we have this day met to celebrate, is a striking proof, that the God of heaven and earth is the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.
Yes, my brethren, the nations from which most of us have descended, and the country in which some of us were born, have been visited by the tender mercy of the common Father of the human race. He has seen the affliction of our countrymen, with an eye of pity. He has seen the wicked arts, by which wars have been fomented among the different tribes of the Africans, in order to procure captives, for the purpose of selling them for slaves. He has seen ships fitted out from different ports in Europe and America and freighted with trinkets to be exchanged for the bodies and souls of men. He has seen the anguish which has taken place when parents have been torn from their children, and children from their parents, and conveyed, with their hands and feet bound in fetters, on board of ships prepared to receive them. He has seen them thrust in crowds into the holds of those ships, where many of them have perished from the want of air. He has seen such of them as have escaped from that noxious place of confinement, leap into the ocean; with a faint hope of swimming back to their native shore, or a determination to seek early retreat from their impending misery, in a watery grave. He has seen them exposed for sale, like horses and cattle, upon the wharves; or, like bales of goods, in warehouses of West India and American seaports. He has seen the pangs of separation between members of the same family. He has seen them driven into the sugar; the rice, and the tobacco fields, and compelled to work, in spite of the habits of ease which they derived from the natural fertility of their own country in the open air, beneath a burning sun, with scarcely as much clothing upon them as modesty required. He has seen them faint beneath the pressure of their labours. He has seen them return to their smoky huts in the evening, with nothing to satisfy their hunger but a scanty allowance of roots; and these, cultivated for themselves, on that day only, which God ordained as a day of rest for man and beast. He has seen the neglect with which their masters have treated their immortal souls; not only in withholding religious instruction from them but, in some instances, depriving them of access to the means of obtaining it. He has seen all the different modes of torture, by means of the whip, the screw, the pincers, and the red-hot iron, which have been exercised upon their bodies, by inhuman overseers.
Overseers, did I say?
Yes, but not by these only. Our God has seen masters and mistresses, educated in fashionable life, sometimes take the instruments of torture into their own hands and, deaf to the cries and shrieks of their agonising slaves, exceed even their overseers in cruelty.
Inhuman wretches! though you have been deaf to their cries and shrieks, they have been heard in heaven. The ears of Jehovah have been constantly open to them: he has heard the prayers that have ascended from the hearts of his people; and he has, as in the case of his ancient and chosen people the Jews, come down to deliver our suffering countrymen from the hands of their oppressors.
He came down into the United States, when they declared, in the constitution which they framed in 1788, that the trade in our African fellow-men, should cease in the year 1808: he came down into the British Parliament, when they passed a law to put an end to the same iniquitous trade in May, 1807: he came down into the Congress of the United States, the last winter, when they passed a similar law, the operation of which commences on this happy day.
Dear land of our ancestors! thou shalt no more be stained with the blood of thy children, shed by British and American hands: the ocean shall no more afford a refuge to their bodies, from impending slavery: nor shall the shores of the British West India islands, and of the United States, any more witness the anguish of families, parted forever by a public sale. For this signal interposition of the God of mercies, on behalf of our brethren, it becomes us this day to offer up our united thanks. Let the song of angels, which was first heard in the air at the birth of our Saviour, be heard this day in our assembly:
Glory to God in the highest, for these first fruits of peace upon earth, and good will to man: O, let us give thanks unto the Lord: let us call upon his name, and make known his deeds among the people. Let us sing psalms unto him and talk of all his wondrous works.
Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honouring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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