“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”These are the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples in The Gospel of John. These are the words that Jesus has spoken to all of us to receive and to turn into our way of life. The task doesn’t sound very hard. Love one another—that’s it! We all know in various ways what love might feel like or what love might look like, yet, we walk in a world that sometimes reflects a lack of love. We walk in a world that yearns for the type of love that God has not only promised to give each of us but has already given us. This is a love that reaches beyond our closest imaginations and understandings. Today, we remember Absalom Jones, who was born into a world that didn’t see him deserving of love; a world that didn’t see him or his worth. Absalom Jones was born into slavery in Delaware in 1746. He taught himself how to read using the New Testament and through it learned the message of love that comes from Christ Jesus. Despite his treatment from the world around him, and the love, justice and peace that he did not receive from all, Absalom persevered. He purchased his own freedom and stepped into a ministry as the first African American priest in the Episcopal Church. His was a ministry that would change the lives of many, including lives such as myself and Episcopalians and Christians across our world today. Absalom lived and walked a life paved in the way of love, a way that Jesus commanded us to follow. Absalom’s preaching and way of life provides us another witness to what living into this commandment can really do. May we each move into the days ahead following in the footsteps of Absalom. We can follow his footsteps by breaking down divisions, renouncing hatred, and fighting for justice and respect of every human being not only with our words, but as our whole being. Christ has called us, just as he called Absalom Jones, to work for the Kingdom bringing a brighter day to all in the days, weeks, months and years to come. Discern How have you spoken for justice this week? How will you speak for justice in the days to come? Where have you seen and felt peace in your community? Where have you seen the need for peace in your community? How will you walk in The Way of Love today and in the days to come? Activity Take a few minutes each day to journal and reflect on where you have seen and felt the love of God in your life and what uncomfortable places and conversations God might be calling you to engage in so that you can share that love in a yearning world. Collect for Absalom Jones 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.
[Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Grow Christians in 2019; Image Credit: Portrait of Absalom Jones by Raphaelle Peale, property of Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. Collect for Absalom Jones used with permission by Church Publishing.]