We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

The Virgin Mary, Aug. 15

We celebrate her saint day on August 15, the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. The day represents God’s redeeming work in all of the world.

Mary lived circa 18 BCE- 41 CE. She was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, the daughter of Joachim and Anne and the wife of Joseph, the carpenter. Little is known of her life except when it relates to Jesus life. She remained faithful to him through his death (when his disciples denied, betrayed, and fled), and even after his death, continued life in ministry with the apostles.

The New Testament records many incidents from the life of the Virgin which shows her to be present at most of the chief events of her Son’s life:

  • her betrothal to Joseph [Luke 1:27]
  • the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel that she was to bear the Messiah [Luke 1:26-38]
  • her Visitation to Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist [Luke 1:39-56]
  • the Nativity of our Lord [Luke 2:20]
  • the visits of the shepherds [Luke 2:8-20] and the magi [Matthew 2:1-12]
  • the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple at the age of forty days [Luke 2:22, 2:41]
  • the flight into Egypt, the Passover visit to the Temple when Jesus was twelve, [Matthew 1:16,18-25; 2; Luke 1:26-56; 2];
  • the wedding at Cana in Galilee [John 2:1-11]
  • and the performance of her Son’s first miracle at her intercession [John 2:1-11],
  • the occasions when observers said, “How can this man be special? We know his family!” [Matthew 13:54-56, Mark 6:1-3, Luke 4:22; also John 6:42],
  • an occasion when she came with others to see him while he was preaching [Matthew 12:46-50,Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21],
  • her presence at the foot of the Cross, where Jesus commends her to the care of the Beloved Disciple [John 19:25-27],
  • her presence with the apostles in the upper room after the Ascension, waiting for the promised Spirit [Acts 1:14].   

Besides Jesus himself, only two humans are mentioned by name in the Creeds. One is Pontius Pilate, Roman procurator of Judea from 26 to 36 AD and the other is Mary. There are more feast days in The Episcopal Church honoring Mary than anyone else.

There have been many appearances of Mary over the centuries. Tradition says that in 39 CE, the Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to Saint James the Great in Zaragoza, Spain. Over the centuries, there have been dozens of additional reports of appearances of the Virgin Mary in different times and places. Two of the most influential visions of the Virgin Mary are the Virgin of Walsingham and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Her story was carried by National Geographic in December, 2015 –”How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman”

Her message to us was simple – “Listen to Him. Listen to my Son. Do what He tells you.” 

Virgin Mary, Aug. 15

We celebrate her saint day on August 15. 

Mary lived circa 18 BCE- 41 CE. She was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, the daughter of Joachim and Anne and the wife of Joseph, the carpenter. Little is known of her life except when it relates to Jesus life. She remained faithful to him through his death (when his disciples denied, betrayed, and fled), and even after his death, continued life in ministry with the apostles.

The New Testament records many incidents from the life of the Virgin which shows her to be present at most of the chief events of her Son’s life:

  • her betrothal to Joseph [Luke 1:27]
  • the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel that she was to bear the Messiah [Luke 1:26-38]
  • her Visitation to Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist [Luke 1:39-56]
  • the Nativity of our Lord [Luke 2:20]
  • the visits of the shepherds [Luke 2:8-20] and the magi [Matthew 2:1-12]
  • the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple at the age of forty days [Luke 2:22, 2:41]
  • the flight into Egypt, the Passover visit to the Temple when Jesus was twelve, [Matthew 1:16,18-25; 2; Luke 1:26-56; 2];
  • the wedding at Cana in Galilee [John 2:1-11]
  • and the performance of her Son’s first miracle at her intercession [John 2:1-11],
  • the occasions when observers said, "How can this man be special? We know his family!" [Matthew 13:54-56, Mark 6:1-3, Luke 4:22; also John 6:42],
  • an occasion when she came with others to see him while he was preaching [Matthew 12:46-50,Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21],
  • her presence at the foot of the Cross, where Jesus commends her to the care of the Beloved Disciple [John 19:25-27],
  • her presence with the apostles in the upper room after the Ascension, waiting for the promised Spirit [Acts 1:14].   

Besides Jesus himself, only two humans are mentioned by name in the Creeds. One is Pontius Pilate, Roman procurator of Judea from 26 to 36 AD and the other is Mary. There are more feast days in The Episcopal Church honoring Mary than anyone else.

There have been many appearances of Mary over the centuries. Tradition says that in 39 CE, the Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to Saint James the Great in Zaragoza, Spain. Over the centuries, there have been dozens of additional reports of appearances of the Virgin Mary in different times and places. Two of the most influential visions of the Virgin Mary are the Virgin of Walsingham and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Her story was carried by National Geographic in December, 2015 –"How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman"

Her message to us was simple – "Listen to Him. Listen to my Son. Do what He tells you." 

Sunday Links for August 14, 2022 – Pentecost 10

Aug.14, 11:00am – Eucharist

The peace Jesus has come to bring by establishing right relationships demands a complete revaluation and transformation of oneself and one’s relationships

  • Zoom link for Aug.14 Meeting ID: 869 9926 3545 Passcode: 889278
  • Bulletin Aug. 14, 2022
  • Lectionary for Aug. 14, 2022, Pentecost 10

  • All articles for Aug. 14, 2022
  • This Week

  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed, Aug 17, 10am-12pm. Reading lectionary of Aug. 21
  • Village Harvest, Wed, Aug 17, 3:00-5pm. Come grab some fresh produce, canned goods, and meats and anything we have available

  • Gospel, “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! “

    This a shift of mood in the gospel from last week’s Luke 12:32-48. That passage begins with a beautiful theme of blessing for the crowd. “Do not be afraid, little flock” to this week’s “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” Now there’s a shift ! 

    When he is with the crowd, strangers and foreigners, he proclaims the Good News of God’s unconditional acceptance and universal compassion. When Jesus is with the disciples, his teaching is far more demanding and often blunt.

    Contradicting the angels’ promise of peace on earth at his birth in Luke 2, Jesus emphatically denies that he’s come to bring peace. Instead, he claims to be the bearer of discord and fragmentation. As he journeys toward Jerusalem, Jesus becomes a source of conflict and opposition when he lays claim to startling forms of authority and power. His words are marked with a sense of urgency and intensity. The road to Jerusalem, after all, leads to a violent confrontation with death.

    "Fire Window" – National Cathedral, Washington

    This week’s gospel can be divided into three parts :

    1 In verses 49-53, there are three images – casting fire, baptism/immersion , division of family members

    At least with the first two images, fire and baptism, Jesus’ is distressed that he hasn’t completed these tasks. By placing this saying in the midst of the journey narrative — Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem but not there, yet — Luke may be indicating that the completion of these tasks takes place on the cross in Jerusalem when he is "immersed" into death, or, in a broader sense, his immersion into the passion/suffering events that take place in Jerusalem

    Jesus explains the way in which His coming will “cast fire on the earth.” He also expresses an eagerness to get on with the process of bringing fire to the earth. This “fire” has implications for the family, but not those which we would prefer. The coming of Christ will cause great division within families, driving wedges between those family members between whom we normally find a strong bond.

    What is this fire ?

    One possibility of the “fire” of which Jesus spoke is the same fire about which the prophets, including John the Baptist, spoke—the fire of divine wrath. When Jesus said that He had come to “kindle a fire” – the outpouring of God’s wrath on sinful Israel/ His death on the cross would set in motion a series of events, which will eventuate in the pouring forth of God’s divine wrath on sinners.

    Another possibility is to consider the phrase “begin on fire” to refer to someone who is passionate about something. We need to get rid of things that exploit and do not sustain us (such as poverty, racism, disease). Redemption can come only when those systems are shattered and consumed by fire and we rebuild based on a different set of values. Business as usual means injustice and death. Thus, life can not flourish with a crisis which is God’s presence.

    Thirdly, it can also speak to Jesus transformation – from man to resurrected individual and the change. His purpose was to become a sacrifice for our sins and his baptism was the crucifixion. His death on the cross would set in motion a series of events, which will eventuate in the pouring forth of God’s divine wrath on sinners and the creation of the church

    One needs to separate the idea of “means” and “end” in this passage . The difference is, on the one hand, that between “then” (heaven, the kingdom of God) and “now.” “Peace” is the end, but a sword and division is the means. “Life” is the end, but death—our Lord’s death, and the disciple’s “taking up his cross” is the means

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from his German prison cell in 1944 about the violence which destroyed the sense of fulfillment of life for him and the long isght of history. Out of this painful experience came a profound insight, part of his Daily Meditations from His Letters: “This very fragmentariness may, in fact, point toward a fulfillment beyond the limits of human achievement."

    What is this baptism ? This part of the scripture refers to Jesus himself and not his followers. Not immersion in water but tis baptism is clearly the death which He would die on the cross of Calvary. He is being cleansed for a purpose . His purpose was to become a sacrifice for our sins and his baptism was the crucifixion. It can refer also to his mission against the structures of the world about which he is “stressed” since it will lead to his own death. Yet, there is relief when it is over.

    The division which Jesus speaks of here has several interesting features. Following Jesus is more than just affirming his message – it is teaching of action which has its consequences. First, there is a division which occurs within the family.

    -father against son 

    -mother against daughter 

    -mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law  

    Peter Wood speculates that Jesus may have meant, 1. Conflict within the order of Rome, the cult of the emperor. 2. Conflict within Jewish families with the importance of the mother determining who is Jewish. 3 Conflict within entities themselves such as within believers, or today within churches,

    Second, there is a polarization which is described, so that it is not “one against one,” or to follow the imagery established by our Lord, “one against four,” but “two against three” and “three against two.” All these numbers don’t divide evenly. Is this the origin of “being at odds with someone”?

    Those who have come to faith in Christ will join together into a new kinship, while those who have rejected Christ will also find a new bondage, a new basis of unity, in opposition to Christ

    As Phyllis Tickle writes, “All change – even Good News change – will cause conflict and grief for the simple reason that all change – even Good News change – means giving up / losing something, and it means valuing one thing over another.” Out of the old traditional family comes a new family of believers. This was a challenge to the biological family in that time, extremely important. You risk being cast out – an extraordinary demand.” You risk your own baptism on the cross.

    Jesus warned that those who make a commitment to him will be persecuted, that a commitment of faith also means that our attitude toward material possessions must change, and that moral responsibilities must be taken with even greater seriousness. Because our commitment to Christ shapes our values, priorities, goals, and behavior, it also forces us to change old patterns of life, and these changes may precipitate crises in significant relationships

    2 In verses 54-57, Jesus speaks specifically to the multitudes, pointing out a very serious hypocrisy. He reminds them that while they can forecast tomorrow’s weather by looking at present indicators, they cannot see the coming kingdom of God as being foreshadowed by Christ’s first coming.

    The illustration seems to point to the weather patterns in the Near East. The Mediterranean Sea was to the west and winds from that direction brought rain. The desert was to the south and winds from that direction brought heat.

    He calls the religious leaders hypocrites. He criticized them and also his hearers about their lack of ability to perceive spiritual realities around them. Why, then, could these people, skilled at reaching conclusions about the weather, not come to the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah, based on the voluminous evidence, all of which conformed perfectly to the predictions of the prophets?

    You can look at this in another way and see the implications of our own lives. It is time to check the direction of the wind and let that determine the course of action. We tend to let the insignificant dominate our attention while miss or ignore the significant. Our actions help to determine the future as natural consequence follow from the weather

    3 Verses 58 and 59 conclude the chapter by making a very personal and practical application. Reconciliation with their opponent needs to take place prior to standing before the judge.

    Lectionary commentary Pentecost 10, August 14

    I. Theme –   The connection between speaking out for God and making enemies

    National Cathedral – “Fire Window”

    The lectionary readings are here or individually:  

    First Reading – Jeremiah 23:23-29
    Psalm – Psalm 82
    Epistle – Hebrews 11:29-12:2
    Gospel – Luke 12:49-56 

    Today’s readings recognize the connection between speaking out for God and making enemies. In Jeremiah , God denounces those false prophets who tell lies in God’s name. The author of Hebrews urges believers to accept hardship as a divine aid to discipline. There are no guarantees that the faithful will thrive. They may be the objects of persecution and violence, but even in adverse situations, their hearts and minds are focused on God’s realm. This may minimize the emotional impact of persecution. Jesus warns that his ministry will bring a time of spiritual crisis.

    When we ignore the poor, when we turn away from the cries of injustice in this world, we turn away from Jesus himself. In Jesus’ day, the religious hypocrites would claim to follow God’s ways but had no concern for the very ones God declared concern for through the prophets. To this day, we end up being concerned more about right belief and right doctrine than how we live out our faith. When we look to the prophets and to Jesus, we see God hearing the cries of the poor, the widows and the orphans. We see Jesus eating among the sinners and tax collectors and the prostitutes. We hear the rejection of Jesus by others being a rejection of God’s love for all people, but especially the marginalized and outcasts. This same rejection happens today—we fashion Jesus into being concerned about right belief, when Jesus seems clearly to be concerned with how we love one another. We continue to miss the mark, transforming a love for all, especially those on the margins, into a love for a few who are obedient to a set of rules.

    In the maelstrom of conflicting positions and cultural divisions, Jesus challenges us to interpret the signs of the times. Awareness opens us to see the connection between injustice and violence and consumerism and ecological destruction. The causal network has a degree of inexorability: although we are agents who shape the world, we do reap what we sow.

    II. Summary

    First Reading –  Jeremiah 23:23-29

    Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry in 627 BC, and ended it about 580 BC. His career spanned the period culminating in the Kingdom of Judah’s final defeat by the Babylonians, the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple, and the exile of the major part of the population. In the time before the final defeat, some prophets advocated resistance while Jeremiah counseled submission to Babylonian rule as being God’s will.

    Jeremiah was blunt about what was right and what was not, and he suffered at the hands of the powerful because of his outspokenness. Judah’s defeats at the hands of foreign enemies were the result, Jeremiah insisted, of the bad faith of the king and other leaders among the people. This and similar statements seemed seditious to some. They were still reluctant to kill him outright, so they got the king to order Jeremiah thrown into a pit and kept there. Then someone else got the ear of the wishy-washy king, and successfully argued for Jeremiah’s release

    In these passages, Jeremiah ponders what it is that constitutes true prophetic work, and determines that it is proclaiming the word (of God) faithfully. . Jeremiah’s 23rd chapter is a compendium of commentary on the work of the prophets. They are compared to evil shepherds, and liars.

    Jeremiah 23:23-39 shows God’s faithfulness through the covenant with Israel. Through Jeremiah, we are reminded that our God is a God who is close to us, not far away. Our God is the creator, the God who is faithful to all of creation. Many of the prophets in Jeremiah’s day have gone astray and just prophesy what the people want to hear, but the true prophet will speak in faithfulness. Though this passage may seem dark words from Jeremiah, we are reminded that God continues to be faithful, God continues to be very near, and God’s word is like fire that purifies, a hammer that breaks through the rock of stubbornness, the rock of oppression.

    God is fully aware of the activities of these false prophets and brings them to judgment. God is no local deity easily hoodwinked, but transcendent and omnipresent. God is not revealed in dreams, but in visionary experiences (the classical prophetic tradition distinguished strongly between dreams and visions). God’s word does not result in the forgetting of God’s name. Its impact is challenging, not soothing. The final result is never complacency but radical obedience.

    Psalm –  Psalm 82

    Psalm 82 shows that God is the God of justice. This psalm celebrates Israel’s God as the ruler over all the nations and their protective deities

    This psalm assumes a heavenly court of other gods, in which God cries out for justice against the unjust gods. God removes their power, making them powerless, and instead gives power to the powerless ones, the weak, the widow, the orphan, and the needy. God is the God of the oppressed, the God of the marginalized, and God will not rest until they receive justice.

    The psalmist sees justice as being foundational. It is justice that allows the earth “to be” – “all the foundations of the earth are shaken”, when justice is not allowed to have its way. Even God’s own realization is shaken. “I thought that you were gods”. Now there is a different understanding on God’s part. “You shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.” The powers that were thought to rule life are found to be wanting. It is God who will rise and judge the earth.

    Epistle-  Hebrews 11:29-12:2

    This letter was written for the sake of Jews who had become Christians, and who were promptly rejected by other Jews. Kicked out of synagogue and cut off from family and old friends, from the comforting rituals and institutions they had known, these folks needed their faith bolstered

    The letter to the Hebrews bolsters the faith of Jewish converts who missed the rituals and institutions of Judaism. The author wants his audience to think of themselves as athletes in a race in a stadium. The fans cheering for them are ancestors who struggled for the faith in the past. Jesus, on the other hand, is not a cheering witness, but the supreme example. The sentences describing his fidelity are not just images; they’re strong and direct statements

    The author recalls examples of faith from throughout Israel’s history. He recalls the experience of the early Israelites during their exodus from Egypt and their trek through the wilderness to the promised land. He alludes to the Judges, the kings and the prophets whose faith provided and protected the nation. Many were rejected and killed for what they believed in. These heroes of the faith, these witnesses give us strength and hope. Through many trials and persecutions, these ancestors persevered because of their trust in God. However, they “did not receive what was promised,” because God had an unexpected surprise in store through Jesus, who will be the perfect model of faith. Ultimately it is Jesus who gave himself for us, who let go of himself to die and live for us.

    Verse 12:2 is a brief hymn, summing up Christ’s work as model and perfecter of faith. Christ sets up the race, an appropriate Hellenistic model, as the metaphor for life. That life might include difficulties is exactly the connection that the author wishes to make with the life of Christ Jesus voluntarily submitted himself to suffering and in turn reaped the reward of resurrection and exaltation to the place of honor at God’s right hand. His example is the model for any suffering that we might need to endure in order to arrive where he, as leader, has gone before us

    Gospel –  Luke 12:49-56 

    Today’s gospel reading again expresses the sense of imminent crisis in Jesus’ own ministry and in the life of the nation. There are two central images.

    Jesus speaks of his ministry, through which he intended to reveal and establish right relationships, as being “to set the earth on fire.” Fire is an apt image of God’s transforming presence because it leaves nothing that it touches the same as before. Fire destroys but with it also purifies. A second image is baptism in which water can be death or life.

    All of these images are pointing to the passion, and this aspect will serve as a dividing point for many. Jesus speaks to the difficulty of God’s judgment, that people will become divided because of it, even within the family, even within what is supposed to be one, units of sometime comfort and closeness.

    Jesus has come to reconcile all people to God, but that reconciliation will cause some to reject God. There are those who cannot accept a God who accepts and loves all people. They will reject Jesus, and in turn reject the very God who loves them. And those who do reject Jesus do not understand what they are doing, they do not understand the signs of the times for them.

    The peace Jesus has come to bring by establishing right relationships demands a complete revaluation and transformation of oneself and one’s relationships .
     

    Jonathan Myrick Daniel, Aug 14, 2022

    Who Was Jonathan Daniels ?

    Sunday is the anniversary of the arrest of seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniel in 1965 at the height of the racial strife in Selma in 1965. Daniel was killed when he took a shotgun blast that was intended for a black female, Ruby Sales. It killed him instantly. Daniels’ life showed a pattern of putting himself in the place of others who were defenseless and in need.

    Describing the incident, Dr Martin Luther King said that “one of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry was performed by Jonathan Daniels.”

    What happened to Ruby Sales? Sales went on to attend Episcopal Theological School in Massachusetts which Daniels had attended (now Episcopal Divinity School). She has worked as a human rights advocate in Washington, D.C. She founded The SpiritHouse Project, a non-profit organization and inner-city mission dedicated to Daniels.

    The Rev. Gillian Barr in an Evensong in honor of Daniel in Providence RI provides an apt summary of Daniels. “He was a young adult who wasn’t sure what he was meant to do with his life. He had academic gifts, a sense of compassion, and a faith which had wavered from strong to weak to strong. He was searching—searching for a way to live out his values of compassion and his faith rather than just studying them in a book. He was living in intentional community, first at VMI, then at EDS, and then finally with activists in Alabama. His studies, and his prayer life, and his community all led him to see more clearly the beauty and dignity in the faces of all around him, even those who looked very different and came from very different backgrounds than the quiet boy from Keene, NH.”

    Links:

    Here Am I, Send Me: The Story of Jonathan Daniels . This is an excellent documentary produced in 1999. Highly recommended
    Biography
    Episcopal News Service Article 2015
    Video from 2010 commemoration event

    Somebody must visit the sick, and the lonely, and the frightened , and the sorrowing. Somebody must comfort the discouraged, and argue lovingly and convingly with the anguished doubter. Somebody must remind the sick soul that healing is within his grasp and urge him to take the medicine when his disease seems more attractive. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send ? And who will go for us ?” The said I “Here am I. Send me.” – Jonathan M. Daniels – Sermon St. James Episcopal, Keene, NH

    A summary of his biography follows: 

    Jonathan Myrick Daniels was born in New Hampshire in 1939, one of two offspring of a Congregationalist physician. When in high school, he had a bad fall which put him in the hospital for about a month. It was a time of reflection. Soon after, he joined the Episcopal Church and also began to take his studies seriously, and to consider the possibility of entering the priesthood.

    After high school, he enrolled at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia where at first he seemed a misfit, but managed to stick it out, and was elected Valedictorian of his graduating class.

    In the fall of 1961 he entered Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Boston to study English literature, and in the spring of 1962, while attending Easter services at the Church of the Advent in Boston, he underwent a conversion experience and renewal of grace. Soon after, he made a definite decision to study for the priesthood, and after a year of work to repair the family finances, he enrolled at Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1963, expecting to graduate in the spring of 1966.

    In March 1965 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, asked students and others to join him in Selma, Alabama to push for voting rights legislation. He and others left on Thursday for Selma, intending to stay only that weekend; but he and a friend missed the bus back, and began to reflect on how an in-and-out visit like theirs looked to those living in Selma, and decided that they must stay longer. They went home to request permission to spend the rest of the term in Selma, studying on their own and returning to take their examinations.

    Jon devoted many of his Sundays in Selma to bringing small groups of Negroes, mostly high school students, to church with him in an effort to integrate the St. Paul’s Episcopal Episcopal church. They were seated but scowled at. Many parishioners openly resented their presence, and put their pastor squarely in the middle. (He was integrationist enough to risk his job by accommodating Jon’s group as far as he did, but not integrationist enough to satisfy Jon.) (Our bishop Shannon Johnston served this church as his first congregation). 

    As time went on, Jonathan’s anger flared up not only in confronting the white power structure but also dealing with reluctance of Christians to speak against the racial inequalities.  

    However, Jonathan gradually saw his work in terms of a larger purpose – the way of the cross. – “ultimately the revolution to which I am committed is the way of the Cross.”  

    He was coming to a new realization that as a “soldier of the Cross” he was “totally free- at least to give my life, if that had to be, with joy  and thankfulness and eagerness for the Kingdom.”  

    He began to tie in concepts of freedom in terms of doing God’s will -obedience.   

    “The Gospel is less and less a matter primary of the intellect. And more and more a matter of living and dying and living anew.” 

    “When the Christian first begins to answer with his own feeble love the overwhelming Love of God, he finds himself animated by an attitude that is equally “holy obedience” and “perfect freedom.” In that freedom which is holy obedience, the Christian has only one principle, only one agenda. And that is the dynamic of life –in-response to the loving, judging , healing, merciful revelation by God Himself of His Holy Will.”  

    In Camden after a tear gas bombing he found a new depth to the freedom of obedience-

    “I think it was when I got tear-gassed leading a march in Camden that I began to change. I saw that the men who came at me were not free: it was not the cruelty was sweet to them (though I’m afraid it is) but that they didn’t know what else to do. Even though they were white and hateful and my enemy, they were human beings too…”

    “Last week in Camden I began to discover a new freedom in the Cross: freedom to love the enemy. And in that freedom, the freedom (without hypocrisy) to will and to try to set him free…As I go about my primary business of attempting to negotiate with the white power structure…, there is a new factor – I rather think a new Presence – in our conversations: the “strategy of love.”

    On Friday 13 August Jon and others went to the town of Fort Deposit to join in picketing three local businesses. On Saturday they were arrested and held in the county jail in Hayneville for six days until they were bailed out. (They had agreed that none would accept bail until there was bail money for all.). The prisoners were released on August 20 but were not provided with any means of transportation back to Selma.

    Stranded in the 100 degree heat, Daniels and the others sought a cool drink at a nearby store Varner’s Cash Grocery Store.  This store was one of the few shops in the area that didn’t impose a “whites only” policy. However, they were met at the door by Special Duputy Tom Coleman with a shotgun who told them to leave or be shot. After a brief confrontation, he aimed the gun of 17 year old Ruby Sales in the party, and Jon pushed her out of the way and took the blast of the shotgun himself. (Whether he stepped between her and the shotgun is not clear.) He was killed instantly.

    As Daniels’s companions ran for safety, Coleman fired again, critically injuring Richard Morrisroe, a Catholic priest from Chicago, who survived. 

    Not long before his death he wrote:  

    “I lost fear in the black belt when I began to know in my Bones and sinews that I had been truly baptized into the Lord’s death and Resurrection, that in the only sense that really matters I am already dead, and my life is hid with Christ in God. I began to lose self-righteousness when I discovered the extent to which my behavior was motivated by worldly desires and by the self-seeking messianism of Yankee deliverance! The point is simply, of course, that one’s motives are usually mixed, and one had better know it. ” 

    “As Judy (seminarian friend) and I said the daily offices day by day, we became More and more aware of the living reality of the invisible “communion of saints”–of the beloved comunity in Cambridge who were saying the offices too, of the ones gathered around a near-distant throne in heaven–who blend with theirs our faltering songs of prayer and praise. With them, with black men and white men, with all of life, in Him Whose Name is above all the names that the races and nations shout, whose Name is Itself the Song Which fulfils and “ends” all songs, we are indelibly, unspeakably One.”

    There was large scale public outcry over the shooting; and deep shock that a white unarmed trainee priest could be shot and killed by a policeman for protecting an unarmed girl.  As was the case in numerous race-related crimes during the civil rights era, an all-white jury acquitted Coleman when the defense produced witnesses who claimed that Daniels had a knife and Morrisroe had a pistol and that Coleman was acting in self-defense. The shootings and Coleman’s acquittal were condemned across the country.   

    Describing the incident, Dr Martin Luther King said that “one of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry was performed by Jonathan Daniels.”

    Daniels was added to the Episcopal Church Calendar of Saints and Martyrs in 1994 to be remembered each Aug. 14, one of 15 martyrs recognized by the church in the 20th century. This is the 50th anniversary of the original shooting. Bishop Johnston will be attending a pilgrimage marking this 50th anniversary in Alabama, from Montgomery to Hayneville.  The grocery store has been demolished  but a historical marker will be dedicated.  

    The procession will then return to the Courthouse Square for prayer at a memorial erected in his honour by his alma mater, the Virginia Military Institute; before concluding at the Courthouse with a service of Holy Communion in the courtroom where Coleman was tried and acquitted. Presiding Bishop elect Michael Curry will preach. 

    What happened to Ruby Sales? Sales went on to attend Episcopal Theological School in Massachusetts which Daniels had attended (now Episcopal Divinity School). She has worked as a human rights advocate in Washington, D.C. She founded The SpiritHouse Project, a non-profit organization and inner-city mission dedicated to Daniels.

    The Rev. Gillian Barr in a Evensong in honor of Daniel in Providence RI provides an apt summary of Daniels. “He was a young adult who wasn’t sure what he was meant to do with his life. He had academic gifts, a sense of compassion, and a faith which had wavered from strong to weak to strong. He was searching—searching for a way to live out his values of compassion and his faith rather than just studying them in a book. He was living in intentional community, first at VMI, then at EDS, and then finally with activists in Alabama. His studies, and his prayer life, and his community all led him to see more clearly the beauty and dignity in the faces of all around him, even those who looked very different and came from very different backgrounds than the quiet boy from Keene, NH.”

    Poem for the Week – “Kindness” – Naomi Shihab Nye

    “Your Life Is a Poem. Growing up, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye lived in Ferguson, Missouri and on the road between Ramallah and Jerusalem. Her father was a refugee Palestinian journalist, and through her poetry, she carries forward his hopeful passion, his insistence, that language must be a way out of cycles of animosity.” She has been a poet for most of her life, sending out poems at age 7.

     

    Listen to her read her poem, “Kindness”

    She feels this poem was given to her. Here is the background to the poem – she had just married and was with her husband in South America, in Columbia. They were to travel 3 weeks. However, they were robbed on a bus in the first week. It was serious, one person was killed and they lost all their possessions. (She did have a notebook in a back pocket). They had no passports, no money. Where would they go ?

    In a plaza a man came up to them on a street and exhibited kindness. He could see their disarray and asked what happened. He listened and was sad for them – he expressed sorrow in Spanish. Her husband was ready to embark alone to go to another city to try to get their travellers checks. As she was alone, a voice came across the plaza as night was coming on and she reached in her pack pocket for the notebook and she felt like as a secretary as a female voice dictated this poem:

    “Kindness” – Naomi Shihab Nye

    “Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things,
    feel the future dissolve in a moment
    like salt in a weakened broth.
    What you held in your hand,
    what you counted and carefully saved,
    all this must go so you know
    how desolate the landscape can be
    between the regions of kindness.
    How you ride and ride
    thinking the bus will never stop,
    the passengers eating maize and chicken
    will stare out the window forever. 

    “Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
    you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
    lies dead by the side of the road.
    You must see how this could be you,
    how he too was someone
    who journeyed through the night with plans
    and the simple breath that kept him alive. 

    “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
    you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
    You must wake up with sorrow.
    You must speak to it till your voice
    catches the thread of all sorrows
    and you see the size of the cloth. 

    “Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
    only kindness that ties your shoes
    and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
    only kindness that raises its head
    from the crowd of the world to say
    It is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you everywhere
     like a shadow or a friend.”