Pondering for Thursday, November 14, 2019

Readings for Bishop Samuel Seabury, First Bishop to the Americas.

Psalm 133 Acts 20:28-32 Matthew 9:35-38

“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  (Matthew 9:37 – 38)

Even though we had many parishes in the American British Colonies, we were never assigned a Bishop. And even our candidates for ordination to the priesthood had to take the ship across the Atlantic to be ordained a priest.  “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  With the Revolutionary War, it would seem hopeless to get a Bishop, at least from England. It took courage or real faith to follow defeated war ships back across the Atlantic to ask for a priest to be consecrated a bishop.  But that is what Samuel Seabury did even though he was loyal to the British in the beginning; he honored the Independence of the new United States and would not submit to language that subjugated the Church under the British king.

“Samuel Seabury, the first Bishop of The Episcopal Church, was born in Groton, Connecticut, November 30, 1729. After ordination in England in 1753, he was assigned, as a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, to Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1757, he became rector of Grace Church, Jamaica, Long Island, and in 1766, rector of St. Peter’s, Westchester County. During the American Revolution, he remained loyal to the British crown and served as a chaplain in the British army.”  (Great Cloud of Witnesses for November 14)

So while Seabury was loyal to the British he felt compelled to more deeply honor his new formed country and church.  We don’t always get what we want but when decisions are made by those we respect and trust we must come to ourselves and support those decisions. Scotland too had bishops who were consecrated from that same apostolic succession from the Church of Rome as did England but their language of consecration did not require homage to a king. So to Scotland he went.

“In Aberdeen, 14 November 1784, Samuel Seabury was consecrated to the Episcopate by the Bishop and the Bishop Coadjutor of Aberdeen and the Bishop of Ross and Caithness. He thus became part of the unbroken chain of bishops that links the Church today with the Church of the Apostles.”  (James Kiefer)

“Seabury kept his promise, made in a concordat with the Scottish bishops, to persuade the American Church to adopt the Scottish form for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist…… he participated in the first consecration of a bishop on American soil, that of John Claggett of Maryland. Seabury died on February 25, 1796, and is buried beneath St. James’ Church, New London.”  (Great Cloud of Witnesses for November 14)

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John+

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