Reflections to start the week
Monday, October 13, 2014
We do not lose heart.
His name was Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, a name almost as distinctive as his biography. He was born in 1831, to a Jewish family in Lithuania, and was preparing to be a rabbi. He went to study in England in his twenties where he ran across a copy of the New Testament. He was taken with the story of Jesus. He converted to Christianity and joined a Baptist congregation. A one-man ecumenical movement, after a while he became a Presbyterian and went to the United States where he enrolled at a seminary in Alleghany, Pennsylvania. After two years doing that, he was led to the Episcopal Church, and studied at General Theological Seminary in New York. Upon graduation, he was sent by his bishop to Japan, and then to China, where he felt called to translate sacred Christian texts into the language of the people he served in Asia. He began by translating the Psalms. Then the Book of Common Prayer. Then the New Testament. Finally the Hebrew Bible. The last years of his life were spent in infirmity. Confined to a wheelchair, mostly paralyzed and unable to speak, he sat at his desk day after day, typing a translation of the Bible using two fingers. He did not lose heart.
I spoke to a friend over the weekend who has been facing health challenges beyond my imagination. Weeks in the hospital and a long, arduous road to recovery. He spoke to me about a sense of gratitude, and how God had much more in store for him. We spoke of mindfulness, and the powerful witness of Thich nhat hahn, who most famously said: “No mud. No lotus.” I love my friend a lot. He is a good friend, and a very good man. I asked how I could help him. He asked for a cartoon. I can do that. I asked how I could pray for him. He responded with a request for prayers for peace, and he again spoke of gratitude, the confidence that God had more in store.
How is that we see the gift of each day, even when the challenges seem overwhelming, like feeling compelled to translate the Bible when you only have use of two fingers? How can we grow in mindfulness? How can we preserve gratitude in the attitude, especially when life seems perilously unscripted? We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, maybe like Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, or Malala Yousafzai, or brave medical folks attending to the needs of the sick in West Africa, running towards the danger, not away. I’m sure you know others who endure, who persist, who show courage, who do not lose heart, or in the language of St. Paul selected for tomorrow’s feast, who see today’s “slight momentary affliction” as preparation for an eternal weight of glory.
I’ve known a few, like the friend I mentioned. I thank God for the witness of those people in my life. They give me encouragement, which is to say that they give me courage. Is there someone in your life who does that for you? Thank God. Might you be that encouragement for someone today, even in a small way?
– Jay Sidebotham
O God, in your providence you called Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of the Church, and sent him 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. Amen. -Collect for Joseph Schereschewsky’s Feast
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. –II Corinthians 4
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.