Sunday, March 13, 2016

James Theodore Holly, Bishop of Haiti, and of the Dominican Republic

Today the church remembers James Theodore Holly, Bishop of Haiti, and of the Dominican Republic, 1911.

James Theodore Holly was born in 1829, the son of freed slaves. At age fourteen, his family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he learned the shoemaking trade. There he become involved with abolitionist efforts. He left the Roman Catholic church, upset by policies toward the ordination of local black priests, to join the Episcopal Church. At age twenty-seven he was ordained priest, serving for a time as rector of St. Luke's in New Haven, Connecticut.

Prior to the Civil War, Holly helped to found the Protestant Episcopal Society for Promoting the Extension of the Church Among Colored People (a precursor to the Union of Black Episcopalians). Without success Holly and others urged the Episcopal Church at its General Convention to take a stand opposing slavery.

Convinced that the United States would never be a fully hospitable place for people of color, he became involved in encouraging emigration. In 1861 Holly led a group of people to Haiti, where he suffered greatly. His mother, wife, two children, and many members of his group were killed by disease. Still, he founded Holy Trinity Church and schools.

He was ordained bishop in 1874 at Grace Church in New York City. Because the Episcopal Church itself would not countenance the ordination of a black missionary bishop, he received episcopal orders through the auspices of the American Church Missionary Society. He was made bishop of the Anglican Orthodox Episcopal Church of Haiti. Recogition came from Canterbury, and Holly attended the Lambeth Conference as an Anglican bishop. He died in Haiti in 1911.

Jesus, our Prince of Peace, we ask you to raise up servants to stand for freedom and justice, and give us courage to heed their cries. Amen.

Most gracious God, by the calling of your servant James Theodore Holly you gave us our first bishop of African-American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led your people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom you call from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Daily Readings for March 13, 2016 - Fifth Sunday of Lint

Isaiah 43:16-21
Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.

Psalm 126 In convertendo (When)
1   When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream.
2   Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
3   Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
4   The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.
5   Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses of the Negev.
6   Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.
7   Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Philippians 3:4-14
even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

Daily Meditation for March 13, 2016 - Fifth Sunday of Lint

From Forward Day by Day

Psalm 126:7 Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

As I write these words, the news has just delivered word of the latest in a heartbreaking series of race-based hate crimes, with several people dead at the hand of an angry gunman. The United States and much of the developed world is increasingly divided along lines of economic disparity and race. The poor and the victims of racial discrimination continue to suffer an undue burden, while life is pretty comfortable for well-off people like me.

The daughter of one of the victims of this latest attack was quoted in the media, speaking words to the killer, “You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people, but God forgives you, and I forgive you.” Words like these are humbling and inspiring, and perhaps they also indict my own difficulty forgiving others at times. I pray that one day all those who weep today will come again with joy. Somehow, I think the daughter who forgives is already on the way to shouldering her sheaves. Only by God’s grace can we forgive such evil.