Paul Jones - Bishop and Peace Advocate, 1941
Merciful God, you sent your beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Raise up in this and every land witnesses who, after the example of your servant Paul Jones, will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “All who do evil are good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
The Gospel John 8:31–32
Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
God cares about us, and cares about what happens here. Over and over in our Old Testament stories, God reaches out to prophets, preachers, teachers, kings, queens, shepherds and so many more to get them to come back to the loving embrace of God. Over and over God reaches out to the fallible humans in our text, and over and over God reaches out to us. God is persitant, God is patient. God is kind. God loves us. And because God loves us, he desires that we not only love him, but love our neighbors, and even those who persecute us. Because God loves us, he lures us into his embrace.
In Psalm 23, we often pray, “surely goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of our lives, and I will live in the household of God forever.” However, we can easily supplant “God” for “Goodness and kindness,” for God IS goodness and kindness. And this goodness and kindness of God, this God-ness does not merely follow us, but the Hebrew really says that God pursues us, and it is not a mere pursuit such as one who is hanging behind, tailing a car. No, this pursuit by God would be more accurately described as “stuck” to us perhaps stuck to us like “flypaper”...that sticky stuff that we used to roll out of the roll and hope that flies would get stuck to it nearby our Labor Day barb-b-que parties. God’s love sticks to us. God’s goodness sticks to us. God’s kindness sticks to us.
And surely it was for Bishop Paul Jones, who was an early advocate for pacifism and peace and justice in the early decades of the 20th century in the Episcopal Church in the United States. Paul Jones was full of God’s love, kindness, and goodness. Bishop Paul Jones stood in the face of militarism and spoke clearly and prophetically for peace. For his witness, he lost his standing as a Bishop, but in the end, he is not revered as a “saint” in the Episcopal Church...for his modern-day prophetic witness, standing on the side of Love, Goodness, Kindness, and Truth