The NIV Bible gives the following sub-title for 1Corinthians Chapter 4 "The Nature of True Apostleship"
'4 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.'
This past Tuesday was the Feast of St. Bartholomew.
The Bible tells us little about Bartholomew. We know he travelled to India and helped found the Armenian Church.
As I write this, I am in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Often when I am in Saskatchewan, I find myself reflecting on Archdeacon Hazel.
Archdeacon Hazel was a ‘pioneer’ clergyman who came to the extreme western part of central Saskatchewan. His first modes of transportation were either bicycle or horse. His ministry was very rural. As he crossed the territory (in which I was raised) he preformed the ministry of the church in a variety of buildings, homes, and, I am sure, on (physically) the wide-open plains of the Canadian prairie landscape.
One of the treasured pictures I received some years ago from his daughter is of my father; the Archdeacon; and 6 or 7 other leaders of the community, sitting around a table in conversation.
The topic of conversation has been lost to history. What the picture illustrates for me comes in the first two verses of 1Corinthians 4: 'This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ, and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.'
Would, or should, I equate these men with St. Bartholomew? No, and neither would they want me to. Certainly, Archdeacon Hazel would not.
My knowledge of the Archdeacon would have him simply describe himself as a ‘country clergyman’. At the same time, he was an icon in the community, serving for well over 60 years, bringing comfort, solace, support, and spiritual relief to countless people. His ministry—in an era when the Church was very denominationally exclusive—was everything but.
Was Archdeacon Hazel martyred? No. Was he an evangelist? Certainly. Did he establish a Christian community in rural Saskatchewan? Yes. Do the chronicles of history give us a detailed account of his work in the Church? Not in the detail deserving.
At the same time, his memory lives on in many, as it has been handed down through the generations. For me, they all proved faithful in the trust they were given.
I can’t help but think what St. Bartholomew, Archdeacon Hazel, or any of our ancestors, would think of the church today. What I am conscious of is: their vision is now ours to continue.
What are the images our future generations will have of the Church that we are handing down to them? We have inherited a great trust in which to prove our being faithful.
Blessings, Archdeacon Brian+