Readings for James Solomon Russell: Priest: (December 20, 1857- March 28, 1935)
“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
This verse has always bothered me. How can people who come after Jesus, who is God Incarnate, do greater works than he? I think I missed the point of the close of the statement, “because I am going to the Father.” When Jesus goes back to where he was in the beginning he then carries out the work of salvation and reconciliation on a much broader scale. Today we remember The Rev. James Solomon Russell, an Episcopal Priest and educator of People of Color.
“Russell and his wife began teaching African Americans in a room at the tiny new church. This expanded and eventually became Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School. Due to his enthusiasm and aggressive fund-raising, it expanded its enrollment and curriculum. In 1893, Rev. Russell was named Archdeacon of the newly formed Diocese of Southern Virginia and charged with working among African Americans.” (the Episcopal Archives.)
The lesson here is that we can do so much more than a single Jesus could have done by simply stretching out to the hearts of others no matter who they are. James Russell’s enthusiasm and aggressive fund-raising enabled him to accomplish much more than he or others ever dreamed for the benefit of emancipated slaves, of which, he was one.
We of today (regardless of race or ethnicity) do not have the obstacles that Russell or Jesus had. But we still have Jesus’ word that we are able to do greater works because Jesus is at the helm just waiting through our prayers to enable us to do great things. All we have to do is utter “Help Me Jesus.” And watch what happens!
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.