What do we owe?

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I am the temporary, but happy occupant of the Office of the  Rector of All Saints’, a space I have known well and loved for close to thirty years due to having worked for Harry Pritchett from 1988-97.  I am not bringing in books or hanging stuff on the walls except for what you see above –  a print of a newspaper page which Reece and Phil hung over the fireplace for me. Thank you, guys.

I did not bring it to the Rector’s Office  because it’s beautiful but rather because it is a symbol of courage and faith which belongs in the same room where Judge Elbert Tuttle and Ralph McGill and so many other faithful saints pondered and prayed over their city and nation  with their rector in their day.

My offering is a copy of a full page 1968 Jackson, Mississippi newspaper ad, a Statement of Belief and Intention that about 100 citizens including my father signed.  It starts like this:  We believe in the essential worth and dignity of every human being and all that such implies.

The prose is not deathless; the sentiments are not daring unless you happened to live and move and have your business and your family and your being in Jackson, Mississippi in 1968. They were lawyers and business people, ministers and docs (my father),  and teachers and such – a lot like us here at All Saints’.

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My father, James Malcom Packer, MD

They put their names out there in public saying here we stand because we owe it to ourselves and to future generations to speak up for justice. The leader was a dry cleaner guy.

All of our citizens should work untiringly and unceasingly to bring out to the fullest the best in us in the way of kindness, compassion, friendliness and understanding that we may all progress through cooperation. We owe this to ourselves, our families, the oncoming generations, and the development of all of our talents. 

What do we “owe ourselves, our families, and the incoming generations?”  Where do you personally need to stand and act for justice? When do you need to stop being silent?

I am back at All Saints’ because I believe the people—layfolk and clergy—who came  before us answered the What is owed? question faithfully in their day.  And I believe that worshiping and being in their cloud of witnesses/company helps us do what we are called to do in ours.

Martha +

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