I’ve taken to wishing people happy “name of the day of the week,” but in terms of where those names come from. Naming that our days of the weeks and months of the year come from Roman and Norse gods can lead to lots of fun, and confusing conversations. When I say, “happy Thor’s day!” on Thursdays, people look at my funny and ask, “what do you mean?” Then I have the opportunity to talk to people about where these names come from. This is also one of those “dad joke” things that often make my children cringe.
One of the reasons I love celebrating minor saint commemorations is that doing so gives our family the opportunities to talk about heroes of our faith and the history and geography of the Christian Church. David, Bishop of Wales, whom we celebrate on March 1st, lived in the 6th century, a time when pagan Angles, Saxons, and Jutes had rooted Christianity out of much of Britain.
Bishop David reminds us of the importance of quiet and meditation in our daily lives. When he was fairly young, he founded a monastery and became the abbot. In time he would go on to start eleven other monasteries in Wales.
Bishop David teaches us about reluctant leadership. He was not someone seeking to be a leader in order to gain power, influence or wealth. He instead resisted the call to be front and center in the church debates. He preferred to study and pray in the monastery over being a public figure in the church. His humility is an inspired example.
The story goes that Bishop David preferred the quiet of his monastery and was practically dragged to an assembly of bishops to combat the threat of the heresy of Pelagianism. Once there, he spoke with such eloquence that he (similar to Jesus) surprised others with his learning. He was a scholar, and when questions about God needed answers, he became a leader and guardian of the Christian faith in Wales.
In the reading from 1 Thessalonians today we hear about the courage of Paul and his companions to declare the Gospel in spite of great opposition. Bishop David echoed embodied this bravery, rising up as courageous leader in the midst of controversy. He stood up for truth when doing so might have cost him the things he loved most.
As the Apostle Paul notes in this text, “But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children… we determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our very selves” (1 Thessalonians 2:7b-8). Bishop David offers us a model for how to pastorally address those in our flock who committed wrongs and need correction. He met them with love and kindness.
Bishop Davis is the foremost Saint of Wales. He teaches us the importance of quiet meditation and study, courageous, though reluctant, leadership, loving kindness in correction of those who err, and the importance of standing up for the Truth.
Today, wish your family, “Happy David of Wales Day” and if you are brave and willing to allow God to lead the conversation, do the same for your friends, work or school colleagues, and even strangers. Of course, this March first is a Sunday, so you can also with people a happy Sunday, or better, a happy Son-day – the day we celebrate the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.