March 29, 2006

John Keble

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is March 29th, 2006: the feast of Blessed John Keble.

The man we remember today, John Keble, had a simple goal in life. It was his wish to be a humble Anglican priest, known for his love of the Church and his parishioners. If he had achieved only this in his life, he would be worthy of commemoration on our calendar. After all, those priests who truly enjoy visiting the sick, teaching confirmation classes, and all the other minutiae of the pastoral life, are very highly prized.

And though by all accounts he was such a priest, God also called him to other achievements. In addition to his pastoral duties, he served for ten years as Professor of Poetry at Oxford. He also published poetry, including his most famous work, a cycle of poems entitled The Church Year. But it was a sermon of his that had the greatest impact on Anglicanism. His Assize Sermon of 1833 set off the Oxford Movement, that strain of 19th century Anglican theology focused on recovering the Church’s sacramental heritage. The ripples of his work, and that of the other Tractarians, are still affecting Anglicanism today.

Nevertheless, I’m sure that Keble would prefer to be remembered as a priest first, and a poet and theologian second. It’s appropriate, then, that today’s epistle lesson is taken from the letter to the Romans, where Paul writes, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:9-21) Keble certainly did all those things. He did not lag in zeal. And he was ardent in spirit while serving the Lord. If only all God’s priests, and indeed all God’s people, alongside their own personal arts and theological writings, were as focused on the simple tasks of ministry as John Keble.

Let us pray: Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing, we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant John Keble, we may accomplish with integrity and courage what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on March31st at for the feast of Blessed John Donne. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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