February 12, 2014

Slave of God

Absalom Jones was born a slave but died a priest of God, making the painful transition from house slave to servant in the House of God. Able to buy his own freedom, he worked with Richard Allen to foster the Free African movement, powered by the Gospel.

The Gospel is strong stuff, and its application can change the world — and the church. And although the church often acts as the brake rather than the engine of change, St Thomas African Episcopal Church was received by the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania in 1794, with Jones as deacon a year later, and a priest in 1802. He continued to build the church he served until his death in 1818. The Collect for his feast day appeals:

SET US FREE, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The icon is from my series of "real people" icons; an effort to portray the subject with as little stylization, and as much humanity, as I can muster.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


2 comments:

John-Julian Swanson, OJN said...

But we should not forget that the same Diocesan Convention (1796) which authorized his ordination (1802), also excluded him and any representatives of his congregation from participating in Convention until the 1860's..

Tobias Haller said...

Indeed so. In its own way not unlike the provision in the Act of Parliament that allowed Canterbury to ordain White and Provoost, on the condition that neither they nor anyone they ordained would ever minister in His Majesty's Dominions...