Pondering for Thursday, February 20, 2020

Readings for Frederick Douglass Orator and Advocate for Truth and Justice, 1895

Psalm 85:7-13 Isaiah 32:11-18 John 8:30-32

“My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.” (Isaiah 32:18)

Today we remember Frederick Douglass an early advocate for civil rights, especially for slaves and for descendents of former slaves.  “Born as a slave in February 1818, Frederick Douglass was separated from his mother at the age of eight and given by his new owner, Thomas Auld, to his brother and sister-in-law, Hugh and Sophia Auld. Sophia attempted to teach Frederick to read, along with her son, but her husband put a stop to this, claiming, “It would forever unfit him to be a slave.” Frederick learned to read in secret, earning small amounts of money when he could and paying neighbors to teach him.” (A Great Cloud of Witnesses for February 20)

Sometimes the most profound lessons come from the lips of people who are not respecting the dignity of another.  Hugh Auld said, learning to read “would forever unfit him to be a slave.” Therefore, reading frees people.  “At the age of 14, Douglass had experienced a conversion to Christ in the African American Episcopal Church, and his recollection of that tradition’s spiritual music sustained him in his struggle for freedom: “Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds.”   (A Great Cloud of Witnesses for February 20)

“A strong advocate of racial integration, Douglass disavowed black separatism and wanted to be counted as equal among his white peers. When he met Abraham Lincoln in the White House, he noted that the President treated him as a kindred spirit without one trace of condescension. Douglass died in 1895.”  (A Great Cloud of Witnesses for February 20)

From Douglas we can, and should, understand Isaiah’s words for us today to be inclusive, that is, the term “My People” to mean people of an inclusive Christian faith, not just black or white, even though Douglas might have meant it that way. There is a truth here that defies race and bigotry. Reading, learning and loving are the gateways to a spiritual growth.  Listening, learning, loving and leading will enable us “to abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.”

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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