[Sitting in Tuesday's (10/Feb) New Testament lecture..."Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" Mark 9:24]
The Lord be with you!
Greetings Beloved, I hope this month's Update finds you well. I'm writing to highlight some Black History thoughts and experiences, the adventure of contemplative spiritual renewal in Lent, and the eternal transitions of two senior relatives who have left our family emotionally wounded, yet hopeful.
February is earmarked Black History Month in the U.S.A. This national observance has become a celebrated series of commemorative expressions including lectures and sermons, pilgrimages, parades, theatrical re-enactments, and music and arts performances just to mention a few, but it's beginnings were very humble. In 1915, historian Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D. was barely 40 years old when he and the Rev. Jesse Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. According to the Library of Congress, "The organization’s goal was to identify and promote the accomplishments of Americans of African descent," and in 1926, sponsored the first national Negro History Week. In 1976, President Gerald Ford was the first Commander-in-Chief to recognize the significance of black history when he said, "Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history." Today, Black History Month is interwoven throughout many parts of the North-American continent and, in particular, the U.K. which offers a more modest annual recognition in October.
[Lain & Rabun in front of The King Center's entrance with collage in background]
This year, I carried my children Lain & Rabun to the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Auburn Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia (a congregation formerly pastored by Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. assisted by son Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) for Sunday morning worship, and shared commentary on a walking tour around the properties of historic Ebenezer Baptist Church building, The King Center and grave sites of Dr. Martin & Mrs. Coretta King, and collage/murals featuring 50th Anniversary Portraits of the March on Washington and the Voting Rights Act 1965.
In just a few days, the Christian church celebrates Shrove Tuesday then enters the solemn season of Lent the following day. Yes, it's a period of 40 days beginning Ash Wednesday (Feb. 18th) that lead up to Easter when we personally deny ourselves of one or any number of indulgences for more dedicated fasting and prayer in spiritual communion with our global and parish families. Most of all, this season of Lent is a contemplative time for renewal of our Baptismal vows in Jesus Christ as we join ourselves with the Lord's suffering of the cross in hope of sharing eternal joy of salvation. The outward mark is the sign of the cross in ashes applied to one's forehead by a priest. Be aware that the cross is an offense to some, so be compassionate and exercise wisdom because the inward renewal is the purpose of our witness. Keeping a Holy Lent, a publication of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, Canada shares, "In the early church new believers were baptized into its fellowship once a year on Easter. Leading up to their baptism a period was set aside for their formation in the faith. In their baptism they would signify their death to the power of evil and their call to be risen into new life in Christ, who overcame the power of death on the first Easter." If you have never experienced Lent or have had little contact with this practice of spiritual renewal and desire to consider more of what this season could mean for you, I invite you to join approximately 85 million Christians worldwide of the Anglican Communion.
On a more somber note, two members of my family have passed away since my last Update (one for whom I asked your prayers last month). Cousins Mr. Craig Wilson, 81 years, of Providence, R.I. passed on January 24th, and Mrs. Allaline Robinson (a.k.a. Cousin Al), 80 years, of Warwick, Bermuda passed on February 8th. In a very real sense, Cousin Craig was the spirit and driving personality behind our most recent family reunion in August 2013. He and his wife, Vera and daughters, Michelle and Kim and son, Craig, Jr. helped to facilitate many other family members to book their travel to Bermuda to reconnect with family that had not reunited for more than a decade. Our family will celebrate Craig's life at a Memorial Service on Saturday, February 21st, in Providence. Cousin Al was predeceased by her husband Eugene "BrickDust" Robinson, but lived a full and engaging life as a beloved member of the Southampton Seventh-Day Adventist Church. As I'm writing, my prayers to God and thoughts are with children Allan, Pam, Donna and the entire family who celebrated her life earlier today (Sunday, February 15th) in Bermuda, surrounded by a great number of relatives, friends, and community members from many areas.
In closing, I wish to mention the personality of the late Mr. Cecil Downs, 99 years, who also entered eternal rest this past week in Bermuda. As the founding Captain of the Boys Brigade in the Anglican Diocese of Bermuda and an avid member of St. Paul, Paget, Mr. Downs touched and aided in the spiritual and social development of many boys, young men, and their families. Although I knew Mr. Downs for only a brief time as an active Ordinand in fellowship at St. Paul, my respect for his contributions ran deep because his reputation preceded him throughout the Diocese as a dedicated progressive. May God comfort and inspire his family, friends, and the Boys Brigade as they gather en masse to celebrate his life in days to come. Additionally, I join many in congratulating Mr. David Astwood who was recently sworn-in and licensed as the new Chancellor (legal counsel) of the Anglican Diocese of Bermuda. After many years of faithful service, Mr. David Cooper has retired as Chancellor with high recognition of a grateful church. Thanks be to God for both of these men and their supportive families.
Until my next Update, my prayer for you comes in the following Lenten Collect:
"Holy God, our lives are laid open before you: rescue us from the chaos of sin and through the death of your Son bring us healing and make us whole in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
JAMAINE "JAY" TUCKER
Ordinand, Anglican Diocese of Bermuda
Sewanee: The School of Theology
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