And, I know you all learned this because I know you all took Confirmation Class, right?
At least a full year – maybe even two – right? Of course, right.
You maybe a little bit rusty. So, to review.
|Does that face look familiar? *|
But, that’s another story for another time.
After the consecration, the priest says, “The gifts of God for the people of God, take them in remembrance that Christ died for you and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.”
|Jonathan M. Daniels, VMI|
|Jonathan, Judy Upham and friend 1965|
“The next thing I know there was a pull and I fall back. And there was a shotgun blast. And another shotgun blast. I heard Father Morrisroe, moaning for water.”
“I thought to myself: ‘I’m dead. This is what it feels like to be dead. I’m dead.”
Joyce Bailey, who had run behind an abandoned car, called to Sales who, realizing she was still alive, crawled over to her. They began to run.
The rest of the group scattered and ran, knocking on doors as they passed homes. “Nobody would let us in; people were so terrified,” Ruby said.
Coleman, a county engineer and a member of one of the oldest white families in Lowndes County, had leveled his gun and fired, blowing Daniels backwards. Daniels lay motionless on the ground.
Morrisroe had retreated, taking Joyce Bailey by the hand. Coleman shot him in the back. He required hours of surgery to survive.
When other SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) workers went to look for Daniels’ body, they could not find it, Ruby Sales said. “The streets had been swept clean, and you could not tell a murder had taken place.”
Two months before his murder, Daniels wrote this about living with and advocating with blacks in what was known as the so-called Alabama Black Belt:
“I lost fear in the black belt when I began to know in my bones and sinews that I have truly been baptized into the Lord’s death and resurrection, that in the only sense that really matters I am already dead, and my life is hid with Christ in God.”Do you hear it? Do you hear the words of faith coming from the heart of Jonathan Daniels?
To the human mind, his words are as confounding as the words Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of his time.
But, Jonathan Daniels knew in his “bones and sinews” that he had truly been baptized into the Lord’s death and resurrection. That he, as St. Paul had written centuries before, was alive in Christ and that Christ lived in him.
At this point, let me offer a simple reminder: This did not happen in the year 65. This is not ancient history. Jonathan Daniels was martyred for his faith on August 20, 1965. Fifty years ago. His feast day was yesterday, August 14, the day of his arrest.
Not all of us are called to be martyrs, as Jonathan Daniels was. Or, St. Paul. Or any of the millions of other martyrs who have died, as our first reading poetically described David’s death and now are “asleep with the ancestors.”
We know that, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, all the saints who have gone on before are awake and alive with the joy of the Risen Christ.
We who – here and now – are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection and nourished by the sacrament of Eucharist – The Great Thanksgiving of and for his body and blood – are called to “feed on Jesus in our hearts, by faith, with thanksgiving,” so that we may become more like Jesus and take the risks of our faith, no matter what specific task God calls us to.
Sometimes, that means the sacrifice – and sometimes, it does require sacrifice – of being generous of spirit, drawing a circle large enough to bring everyone in, instead of keeping some folks out. That sometimes requires real effort, especially when people don’t look like us or talk like us or believe the way we do.
That’s the genius of our faith as Anglicans. Not either/or but both/and. Believing not just with our heads but with hearts and, as Jonathan Daniels said, “in our bones and sinews”.
Jesus said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."
That’s a matter of transubstantiation AND consubstantiation. Jesus is actually with us, in the flesh and stands with us, in the simple matter of the world.
NB#1: I am grateful to the ENS article "Remembering Jonathan Daniels 50 Years After his Martyrdom" for the pictures and information contained in this post.
NB#2: See also "1,500+ honor slain seminarian Jonathan Daniels" and "Pilgrims Gather in Hayneville to Remember Martyrs," for a report of the pilgrimage.