Just yesterday I was talking with Susan Hires, our Children’s Ministry staff person, about All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and a few of my favorite saints in the calendar who often go unrecognized. I should say unrecognized unless I mention them in the context of a service, such as we used to do at Brandon Woods.
And then, lo and behold, I am looking at Forward Day by Day this morning and discover that today (Wednesday, October 14) is the feast day of one of those saints and the reading for that day meshes not only so well with him and his ministry, but us and our time as well.
The saint is Samuel Joseph Isaac Schereschewsky, a mouthful of a name and an extraordinary Christian. A Lithuanian Jew by birth, he was converted by English missionaries and moved to America in 1854 to study at Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to be a Presbyterian minister. In 1856 he decided to become an Episcopalian and graduated from General Theological Seminary in New York in 1859.
After ordination, he responded to a call for missionaries to China and traveled to Shanghai and later Beijing. While there, his tremendous faculty for languages became evident as he both learned and translated the Bible and parts of the Prayer Book into Mandarin. He became Bishop of Shanghai in 1877 and began translating the Bible and other works into Wenli. Sadly, Schereschewsky became stricken with paralysis and he resigned in 1883 and returned to America. He went back to Shanghai in 1897 and continued his translation work despite only having the use of one finger on a partially crippled hand, which he used to type out, key by key, 2000 pages of the Bible in Wenli. He died in 1906 in Tokyo, Japan.
Four years before his death, he said, “I have sat in this chair for over twenty years. It seemed very hard at first. But God knew best. He kept me for the work for which I am best fitted.”
The Bible passage for today has this quote: “Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” (Luke 9:1-2)
The commentator in Forward Day by Day rightly expressed his appreciation for the fact that Jesus so freely shared his capacity for healing with his disciples, and by extension the Church. Even those gravely afflicted, like Schereschewsky, have the capacity to do incredible things in the name of God, proclaim the Gospel, and heal the world in flesh and in spirit.
Yours in Christ,