Readings for March 22 James De Koven Priest and Teacher, 1879
“I will not allow my eyes to sleep, nor let my eyelids slumber”
Until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Psalm 132:4-5)
The Psalmist speaks of his personal life rituals. He talks about his rule of life regarding God. I can surely identify with that. Personally I can’t put any food in my mouth unless I first thank God in some way, even if just a small “thank you Jesus.” James De Koven who we remember today was also a man of ritual – a man of traditions.
James De Koven was born in Middletown, Connecticut, on September 19, 1831, ordained by Bishop Kemper in 1855, and appointed professor of ecclesiastical history at Nashotah House. (From Great Cloud of Witnesses)
De Koven came to national attention at the General Conventions of 1871 and 1874, when the controversy over “ritualism” was at its height. In 1871, he asserted that the use of candles on the altar, incense, and genuflections were lawful, because they symbolized “the real, spiritual presence of Christ” which The Episcopal Church upheld, along with the Orthodox and the Lutherans. (From Great Cloud of Witnesses)
I agree. I pray with Prayer Beads, candles, Native American flute music and Icons of Mary and the Baby Jesus. I so understand the use of things made with our hands as tools to assist in the worship of God, things like the Bible itself and our Book of Common Prayer. God gave us memory reason and skill so that we might more authentically honor God.
Despite calls to serve at prominent parishes in New York City, Boston, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, De Koven remained in his post at Racine College, where his students admired him as “a model of great learning, gracious manners, personal holiness, and extraordinary compassion.” (From Great Cloud of Witnesses)
Again I too never looked past the little parish I was called to serve straight out of seminary (St Paul’s in the Pines). I don’t know if I have any of De Koven’s other qualities. I do know that I see life as a liturgical dance. There is a proper way to do most things, especially things that matter such as eating, sleeping, and taking care of people we love and worship of the Almighty. And the proper way to do these things is to pray before, during and after each is done. We pray through them.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” John Thomas Frazier Sr.