FRIDAY THE THIRD OF AUGUST, 2018
* W. E. B. Du Bois and George Freeman Bragg, Jr. *
Take away, O Lord, from our hearts all suspiciousness, indignation, anger and contention, and whatever is calculated to wound charity or to lessen love of others.
Have mercy on me, O Lord. Have mercy on all who seek your mercy; give grace to the needy, make us so to live that we may be found worthy to enjoy the fulfilment of your grace and attain to eternal life. Amen.
( Thomas à Kempis, c.1380–1471 )
You sons of earth, prepare the plough, break up your fallow ground!
The sower is gone forth to sow and scatter blessings round.
The seed that finds a stony soil shoots forth a hasty blade;
but ill repays the sower’s toil, soon withered, scorched, and dead.
The thorny ground is sure to baulk all hopes of harvest there;
we find a tall and sickly stalk, but not the fruitful ear.
The beaten path and highway side receive the trust in vain;
the watchful birds the spoil divide and pick up all the grain.
But where the Lord of grace and power has blessed the happy field,
how plenteous is the golden store the deep wrought furrows yield!
Father of mercies, we have need of your preparing grace;
let the same hand that gives me seed provide a fruitful place!
( William Cowper, 1731-1800 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
George Freeman Bragg, Jr. and W. E. B. Du Bois
Today Saint Laika’s remembers two African American men who helped black Americans find their voice in the generations following the Civil War, in the aftermath of which, with the end of slavery, many states passed discriminatory laws against black Americans. They came to be known as Jim Crow laws. The phrase “Jim Crow” has often been attributed to “Jump Jim Crow”, a song-and-dance caricature of blacks performed by white actor Thomas D. Rice in blackface, which first surfaced in 1832.
Booker T. Washington was one leading African-American voice. In 1895 his “Atlanta Compromise” called for avoiding confrontation over segregation and instead putting more reliance on long-term educational and economic advancement in the black community. Washington mobilised a nationwide coalition of middle-class blacks, church leaders, and white philanthropists and politicians, with a long-term goal of building the community’s economic strength and pride by a focus on self-help and schooling.
But his voice was not the only voice in those days. W.E.B. DuBois, an African-American living in the North, rose to national prominence as the leader of a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for blacks. Du Bois and his supporters opposed the Atlanta Compromise and insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite. He was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1909. He was a tireless advocate for civil rights for blacks.
He lived to the age of ninety-five and died in 1963, just one year before the American Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law, which embodied many of the reforms DuBois had championed his entire life.
George Freeman Bragg was a contemporary of W.E.B. DuBois. He was an Episcopalian and became a priest in 1888. He helped the Episcopal Church confront its own racism and colonialism with regard to blacks. The Church was good at providing charity to its black members but did little to help them to independence by raising up lay and clergy leadership.
Bragg himself was responsible for leading at least twenty African American men into the Episcopal priesthood. He was the editor of the “Afro-American Churchman.” He died in 1940.
Scripture. In “Psalm One Hundred and Thirteen,” verses five to eight, we read:
Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
… for peace in the world.
… that we may never settle for less than full justice for all people.
… 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 “The Problem of Pain” by C. S. Lewis:
Those divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact, marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about “His glory’s diminution”? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love him we must know him: and if we know him, we shall, in fact, fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God, though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the divine life, a creaturely participation in the divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to “put on Christ”, to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.
Gracious God, we thank you for the witness of W. E. B. DuBois, passionate prophet of civil rights, and for the witness of George Freeman Bragg, tireless priest and shepherd of the flock, who advanced the dignity of African-Americans in both church and state. We pray that we, like them, may use our gifts to do justice in the name of 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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