John Henry Hobart
We, too, are called to remember, reconnect and revitalize our faith.
The portion of the psalm that we read today tells a familiar story from Scripture. From the beginning of our being a people of God, we have been instructed to tell the story — to pass from one generation to the next the salvation story of our God. In the early days, before there were written Scriptures, I think it was actually easier. People communicated through oral histories — the stories were burned in their brains and were as natural and familiar as breathing. Even once the histories were written down, only a few could read, so the oral histories were essential.
Today we have lost that sure familiarity with Scripture. It is a rare Episcopalian who can quote Scripture to anyone. Though we have multiple copies of the Bible lying around, very few of us have ever read the Scriptures cover to cover — and if we have, we are surprised when we hear certain stories. So given our lack of familiarity with Holy Scripture, it is no wonder that our ability to share the Good News is difficult for us. We struggle not only to pass along the story to our children, but especially to pass along the story to total strangers.
John Henry Hobart, whom we celebrate today, had so such reservations. Born in Philadelphia in 1775, John became a priest in 1801. After serving in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Long Island, he was eventually consecrated Bishop of New York in 1811. In his first four years as Bishop, John doubled the number of clergy and quadrupled the number of missionaries in the diocese. Before his death in 1830, he planted churches in almost every major town in New York State. He helped found General Theological Seminary and helped name Hobart College. John revitalized the church, and his zeal was respected by all.
Though John lived more than 200 years ago, his story still speaks to us today. Along with our scriptural ancestors, these figures invite us to remember with zeal the God who loves us, who gives us life, and who saves us. John and our ancestors invite us to reignite our passion for Christ and to let that passion overflow without self-consciousness or fear. Why wouldn’t we want to share the Good News of all that God has done for us? Our invitation is to remember, reconnect and revitalize our faith today. Amen.