September 10, 2008

Alexander Crummell

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 September 10th, 2008: the feast of Blessed Alexander Crummell.

The history of the Episcopal Church is littered with injustice. But it is also strewn with the lives of faithful men and women who opposed injustice in the name of the Gospel. One of those faithful fighters for justice was the man we remember today, Alexander Crummell. His insistence on respect for and inclusion of Afro-Anglicans took him all over this country and across three continents, and ultimately gave us the Union of Black Episcopalians.

The Gospel passage for today is the parable of the sower. In it, Jesus tells of one who scatters seed all over everywhere, on the path, on rocky ground, among thorns, and even, miraculously, on good soil. It’s a good image for the life and ministry of Alexander Crummell. Everywhere he went, he sowed the word of racial justice. And indeed, in many places, his seed fell on the path. He was dismissed as a candidate for Holy Orders, and denied entry into the General Seminary. Even after he was ordained, he was sometimes prevented from taking his rightful place in the diocesan convention. He took his message to England, and eventually to the nation of Liberia, where he hoped to establish a strong Anglican presence, merging the best of European technology and education with the best of African community ideals. His efforts were not completely successful. A lack of money and political influence eventually caused him to leave Liberia and return to the United States. Nevertheless, the Anglican Church remains influential in Liberia, a testament to Crummell’s vision.

In only a few weeks, the Episcopal Church will hold a service of repentance for its participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the continued history of racism and segregation that flowed from it. It is my prayer that as we reflect on what the sin of racism has done to our country in general, and to us, even now, in particular, that Alexander Crummell will be pleased to discover that some of his seed has begun to sprout. May we become ever-more fertile ground for the strong oaks of justice.

Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Alexander Crummell, whom you called to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on September 12th at for the feast of Blessed John Henry Hobart. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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