Daily Office Readings for Saturday of Proper 10: Year 1
“The king said to the guard who stood around him, ‘Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David; they knew that he fled, and did not disclose it to me.’ But the servants of the king would not raise their hand to attack the priests of the Lord” (1st Samuel 22:17).
I was an active duty U. S. Marine for thirty years. I must admit that while I was often told to do something that I did not want to do, I was never ordered to do something immoral or against my faith as I understood my faith. I also belong to a fraternity which makes it very clear that before I swear to an obligation, that obligation will not conflict with my duty to God, my country, my neighbor or myself. I can live with this understanding.
I have the utmost respect for the guards who refused to obey Saul and kill Ahimelech, priest of the Lord. At some point in each life we must listen to our conscience. Our conscience resides in our souls. This is where God speaks to us. Any government or ruler who requires of us to go against our conscience, our soul, our God, must not be obeyed. Who knows? There may be others around you who are on the fence about what to do, but witnessing your steadfastness about what is right to do, helps them to do the right thing also. When confused about what is right to do, try to err on the side of love, compassion and mercy.
Today we also remember the Right Reverend William White: Bishop of Pennsylvania and the first Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. He died July 17, 1836.
The two acts of courage that I like to bring up about Bishop White is first, his resolve to follow the defeated British ships back to England where he requested to be Consecrated a Bishop. He with Samuel Provost of New York were in fact ordained bishops. This was allowed to happen because Parliament had change the wording of ordination in the last three years not requiring allegiance to the king. This didn’t happen for Samuel Seabury who had to go to Scotland to be ordained a Bishop.
The second act of courage has to do with ordaining Absalom Jones, an African American and former slave, to the Deaconate and then Priesthood in God’s one holy catholic and apostolic Church. No one can ordain themselves to Bishop or priest. I clearly see William White following the lead of God in both traveling to an angry England as well as pushing aside racist attitudes and ordaining a black man to the priesthood. And while the ordination of Absalom Jones was for the purpose of presiding over an Episcopal Church of color, the laying on of hands and liturgy is the same as for anyone.
In the end it is the same. If we are going to err, let us err on the side of love, compassion and mercy.
Let us live to love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John