In a sermon punctuated by laughter, applause, and poignant silence, the Rt Revd Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church, fired up attendees at the 19th Annual Jonathan Daniels and Martyrs of Alabama Pilgrimage in Hayneville, AL, on August 15th.
Addressing “the sacred and holy memory of the martyrs of Alabama,” Curry took the roll call of the faithful in Hebrews 11, and its summit in Hebrews 12, as his text:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
He told the story of Jonathan Daniels, who as a seminarian heard the words of the Magnificat, “He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek,” and
when he heard those words, he heard the voice of King: Come to Selma. “But I don’t have the power,” [said Daniels]. [God said,] “You’re part of my movement now, and I’ll help you to do what you don’t have the power on your own to do.” And he did. And we’re here, and the world is different, because he did.
Curry drew upon the words of the “patron saint of the movement,” Harriet Tubman, to give the charge to his congregation: keep going.
If you hear the dogs, you’ve got to keep going. And if you see torches off in the woods, keep going. If they start shouting at you, keep going. If they call you every name but a child of God, keep going. If they spit on you, keep going. If they set dogs on you, keep going. If they call you every name but child of God, keep going. Don’t you give up, and don’t you give in, because if you want to taste freedom, keep going.