Readings for Thomas Bray: Priest and Missionary (15 Feb 1730)
“Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid.” (Luke 10:7)
Being Sent: Jesus sent out the seventy with strict instruction to be entirely present with those whom they were with, whose house they were in. He told them do not go from house to house looking for the best deal. Being sent takes a lot of pressure off because it’s not about the one sent but rather the Sender. We are representing the Sender. We just deliver the message. We also report back to the Sender about what we saw and what we were able to do in the Sender’s Name.
Thomas Bray was sent by the Bishop Henry Compton, Bishop of London, in 1696. Bishop Compton appointed Bray as his commissary to organize the Church of England in the Colony of Maryland to see how the priests were conducting themselves in the New World. Bray did not talk so much to the priest. He talked to the people about how the priest conducted themselves on the voyage; whether they were given to drinking too much or chasing after women and such. He also inquired as to whether they held regular hours of prayer and study of God’s word and did he conduct services on Sunday in keeping with the Church of England.
Thomas was not in the colonies long. And all of his time was spent in the Colony of Maryland. But he advocated for the liberation and education of African slaves and Native Americans. He also began the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) and an educational and publishing society, SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), both of which are still active today.
Thomas Bray was quite a priest. I was blessed to see a stone monument dedicated to him and others while on Sabbatical in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Christ Episcopal Church down town Philadelphia in 2015. It does my heart good to see the history that I read about being made manifest in such a way.
I highly encourage anyone who can, to go to Christ Church Philadelphia and take in some of our Church history. We are still being sent out. And as we go, we are to be thankful and grateful for the hospitality received. Yes, we too are sent, sent to spread the good News of our Lord Jesus Christ and be comfortable where God leads us and sends us.
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