The calendar which hangs on my office wall provides a wealth of information: not only the days of the week and the dates, but also the color vestments to be worn each day if performing a service, the proper preface that is said during a service of Holy Eucharist should one be the celebrant that day, and the calendar of saint’s feast days.
There is a formula for how the saints are listed: first their name, then what they were or did, and then the date of their death. For example, July 17 is the feast of William White (for whom we have to thank for the idea of General Convention, BTW); and the calendar information reads, “William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania, 1836.” I always take interest in the “what they were or did” portion of the entry.
For today we celebrate Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman; their “what they were or did” reads, “Liberators and Prophets.” This is unique, and it is wonderful.
The gospel reading for these liberators and prophets is Luke 11:5-10. The sentence that caught my imagination was the following:
“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.” Luke 11:8
For Jesus the persistence of the man asking his neighbor for something as simple as bread to provide for the man’s late-arriving friend is key. Providing something to eat as a sign of welcome was an essential component of biblical hospitality. The man’s persistence in asking his neighbor pays off and he is given whatever he needs.
Persistence is something that the women whom we celebrate today knew a lot about. All four of them devoted a majority of their lives to the causes for which they toiled, fought, wrote about, argued for and struggled to obtain. As I think about our world and our time I wonder how many of us have devoted a majority of our lives to a particular cause, righting a certain and particular wrong, or changing a whole way that society views a particular issue? I wonder what portions of our lives we spend even thinking about something that we hold valuable in our lives? With what do we persist because it is just that important to us? I wonder how much we persist with the exploration of our faith lives, discovering how to grow and strengthen our relationship with God?
Let us continue to struggle with our faith. Let us persist in learning about new and different ways of being in relationship with God. Let us devote ourselves anew to discovering ways to bring the Good News to a world that desperately needs to hear the message of salvation and love proclaimed in the gospels. Let us do all of these things knowing that when we ask, God listens; when we knock, the door is opened up for us, and that we who are seeking will indeed find the God who loves us, who created us, and who redeems us and the whole world.