Words of Encouragement
from Fr. Jamal Scarlett
November 14, 2020
On November 14, we celebrate the consecration of Bishop Samuel Seabury, the first American Bishop. Elected in March of 1783 by a group of clergy at a small parsonage in Woodbury, CT, he sailed to England to be consecrated. For a number of reasons, including the refusal to take the oath of allegiance to the King of England, no English bishop would consecrate Seabury. Undeterred, he then traveled to Scotland, where he was consecrated by three Scottish bishops at Aberdeen 236 years ago today. The following year, he formally became America’s first Anglican Bishop. Five years later, he helped reorganized America’s Anglicans as the Episcopal Church. 

Seabury’s ministry to the Episcopal Church cannot be overstated. He was a good steward of the responsibility God had entrusted to him. As Episcopalians, we are all indebted to him for his courage and sacrifice.

As Christians, one way to understand our work is through the lens of stewardship. A steward exercises responsibility for something that belongs to another. Whether you're a parent securing a babysitter or an investor relying on financial advisors, something is being entrusted to the other person. Ultimately, of course, God is the owner of all things and gifts us with the responsibility of caring for creation, looking after our neighbor, making good use of abilities and resources, and employing our spiritual influence by the power of the Spirit. 
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells a parable about stewardship. The context involves being ready for the end of days and the coming of the Son of Man. According to Jesus, waiting passively for his return is not an option. We are called to get busy, making the most of whatever God has entrusted to us for the sake of the kingdom. The parable teaches us that each disciple has God-given gifts and opportunities from the Lord, and that these are not the same for everyone. The disciple is left to discern what those gifts and opportunities are. That is the journey of stewardship. 

Each time Bishop Seabury set out upon a journey, he would ask God’s protection for himself and those under his care, and his enablement to be a good steward. In a journal entry from May of 1795, Seabury wrote, “May God Almighty, who has ever been gracious to me, protect me in this journey; dispose my heart to fear… and enable me to do my duty to his Church with uprightness of heart; and bless the ministers and people under my care with his grace and Holy Spirit.”

Let me ask you to take time today to reflect on the various ways in which you are a steward on God's behalf. Reflect on your opportunities, your spiritual gifts, your home, and your environment. Thank God for them. Then ask God if there is a need for a renewed sense of responsibility in any one of these areas. If so, pray for God’s divine assistance in the duties that have been entrusted to you. 

Closing Prayer:
Help us, O Lord, to be faithful stewards so that at the last day, we might hear you say, "Well done, trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." Amen.


*Photo of Samuel Seabury by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

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