Striving to Be Saints
Beloved in Christ,
This Sunday evening, everyone in the diocese is invited to gather on Zoom for a service of Evening Prayer celebrating the feast of Absalom Jones. You can read more about Fr. Jones and his extraordinary life below. He was the first person of African descent to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. He was ordained after leading a heroic effort to overcome the prejudice and racism of the church to establish an independent congregation for African Americans within the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
Two hundred twenty years after his ordination in 1802, our nation continues to be marked by a racism that cuts to our very core. While the most recent symptom of this is the killing of yet another Black man by Minneapolis police, the truth remains that every institution of our common life, including our church, continues to bear this sinful legacy.
That we confess the communion of saints, that we keep the feasts of individual saints who have been recognized by the whole church, is one way that we celebrate the way God has shown up in particularly powerful ways in the lives of our fellow disciples. The saints provide a way of remembering what God has done in the past, and a way of remembering what we are for. We are always called to strive to be saints in our own day, to allow the light of God’s love to shine brightly through our own broken lives.
Absalom Jones was like just about every other saint throughout church history in that he faced enormous opposition to his work for the justice, dignity, and love of every person. When we are doing discipleship right, beloved, we will often face opposition to the message of God’s perfect love and justice. Thanks be to God we have the faithful example of Absalom Jones, and thanks be to God he continues to be present with us, cheering us on as we seek to continue his work in our own day. What a gift and privilege to be able to celebrate his life, to bid his ongoing prayers for our work, and to recommit together to carrying forward his towering legacy, as we will do on Sunday evening. I look forward to seeing many of you there.
Grace and Peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota