Monday, February 13, 2017

Feast Day of Absalom Jones

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1-11

This year, it seems particularly important to remember faithful leaders like Absalom Jones. "The life and legacy of The Rev. Absalom Jones is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, his faith, and his commitment to the causes of freedom, justice and self-determination." This quote comes from the history of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia, which was founded in 1792. Born in slavery in Delaware, buying his freedom as an adult, he fought faithfully against the violence, rejection and societal constrictions of the day. I look to him today for strength and courage as we fight different agents but the same evils in our day.

Jesus understood that he faced imminent death. He also knew his disciples and followers needed the celebration of his entry into Jerusalem and the Passover to carry them through the rough times ahead. He did not destroy custom but inhabited the cultural needs, in order to help the needy humans around him be strengthened and thrive beyond great violence and tragedy. God provides us, in every time, moments of celebration that help us through the horrors of our own societies and governments. God stands with us in the midst of our worries and fears and reminds us to hold on, be faithful, and believe as the saints before us did.

Today, I ask God to help me be strong in faith and follow the lead of Blessed Absalom Jones and others who have built for love in the face of hate and denial. May we all stand up to any and all abuse with the love and faith of our ancestors and the saints above.

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