Readings for Absalom Jones
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
This Commandment of love from Jesus is different from the Commandment we get from Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. In Matthew, Mark and Luke we get Jesus commanding us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The big assumption here is that we in fact love ourselves.
John does not let us off so easy. John records Jesus commanding us to love one another as he, Jesus, loves us. And he loved us all the way to the cross. Jesus literally loved us to death.
Absalom Jones loved his people too in just the same way. He also loved the new Episcopal Church. He would not leave this Church to join Richard Allen in the African Methodist Episcopal movement. Jones was a man of conviction. As a slave he bought the freedom of the woman he loved and married her and then bought his own freedom.
I can’t talk about Absalom Jones without also lifting up Bishop William White. White was Bishop of Philadelphia and the first Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Bishop White ordained Jones to the Deaconate and then to the Priesthood. And while this ordination was for Jones to be a priest was for people of color, he was still ordained in God’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Bishop White listened to God and opened his heart and the Church to make a space of this important ministry.
Before this ordination, blacks were forced to leave a church and as a result Jones met with Bishop White and this brand new Episcopal Church made room for them. Bishop White listened to the voice of God for what to do about this Episcopal Church and former slaves. Being brought about in the midst of a revolution already, he further heard the call to be open to providing for displaced African descendents. Absalom Jones then decided to work with Bishop White and not leave, but rather, give of himself to this perhaps, unexpected opportunity. Praise Jesus.
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