Tag Archives: missionary

Make every word count

Otherwise, if you say a blessing with the spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say the “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since the outsider does not know what you are saying? For you may give thanks well enough, but the other person is not built up. (1 Cor. 14:16-17)

In the Episcopal Church, today is the feast day of Samuel Isaac Joseph Scherechewsky, Bible translator and Bishop of Shanghai, who spent the last 25 years of his life, largely unable to speak, paralyzed and in a wheelchair, translating the Old Testament into Mandarin and the entire Bible into Easy Wen-Li.

He accomplished this monumental feat by typing with only two fingers.

These days, most of us type a lot, using our fingers (or thumbs) to send out a blizzard of emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook status updates, Instagram tags, Snapchat pics, and so on.

There is nothing wrong with staying connected by social media — I love it myself — but I can’t help wondering how much we are building one another up, how solid a contribution we’re making, how much we are writing or saying anything that will last beyond the moment.

There’s an astonishing (appalling) humility to the end of Bishop Scherechewsky’s life: one wheelchair, two fingers, one project that would endure.

What message might God be inviting you to deliver in order to build people up?

What else might need to fall away in your daily life and activities so you can focus on making every word count?

Collect of the Day

O God, in your providence you called Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of this Church, and sent him as a missionary to China, upholding him in his infirmity, that he might translate the Holy Scriptures into languages of that land. Lead us, we pray, to commit our lives and talents to you, in the confidence that when you give your servants any work to do, you also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Always faithful to our mission

Icon of Jackson Kemper created for the Sesquicentennial of the Diocese of Milwaukee

Icon of Jackson Kemper created for the Sesquicentennial of the Diocese of Milwaukee

Prayer for Mission

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen. (BCP 101)

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Today, in addition to the Feast of Jackson Kemper, First Missionary Bishop of the Episcopal Church, we also observe the Ember Days, traditional days of prayer for all ministry, and especially for the ordained leaders of the church.

It’s a very appropriate serendipity, since Jackson Kemper was particularly concerned to ensure that there were clergy trained and suited for ministry in “the scattered settlements of the West.”

With James Lloyd Breck and others, he founded Nashotah House near Delafield, Wisconsin as a Benedictine community from which clergy would go out and minister to the surrounding area. With James DeKoven, he established Racine College, now the DeKoven Center, as a school emphasizing both education and worship in the “Ritualist” (Anglo-Catholic) style.

Jackson Kemper served as the first Bishop of Wisconsin from 1859 until his death, so all three dioceses in the state — Milwaukee, Fond du Lac, and Eau Claire — trace their beginnings to him.

The Episcopal Church in Wisconsin properly honors these “local saints” and their mission to “bring those who do not know Jesus to the knowledge and love of him.” That is the mission we all share to this day.

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For the Ministry (Ember Days)

O God, you led your holy apostles to ordain ministers in every place: Grant that your Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may choose suitable persons for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and may uphold them in their work for the extension of your kingdom; through him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 256)