The Rector's Weekly Column

Rev. Victor H. Morgan


 

         For two millennia, scholars and ordinary people alike have peered back onto the life of a First Century Jew named Jesus of Nazareth. When this is done, a fair-minded person -- religious or not -- has to conclude that no one in the history of the world has influenced more men than this man.

         Perhaps no one has expressed this thought better than James A. Frances, whose short essay on the life of Jesus was popularized by a narration given by Bing Crosby. The narration concludes with these words:

         “Two thousand years have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this ‘One Solitary Life’.”

         One does not have to look hard to find examples of individuals who have been influenced by this One Solitary Life. An Englishman named Thomas Barnardo (1845-1905) is a case in point.

         Barnardo, who has been called the “the patron saint of street kids,” was converted to Christ at the age of 17. Four years later he entered the London College intending to train as a medical missionary to China. However, the direction of his life changed after he began to observe the pitiful existence of destitute children on the streets of the East End of London.

         In 1870 at the age of 25, Barnardo opened a home for these children in Stepney. Other homes followed. Over the forty years of his service as a moral crusader, an estimated 60,000 boys and girls were rescued from the gutter and claimed for Christ. Barnardo’s story, however, would be incomplete without the story of John Somers.

         Barnardo meet 11-year-old Somers – known on the street as “Carrot” because of the colour of his hair – on one of his many walks through London. “Carrot” pleaded with him to be included in the number he took home that evening. However, because he had already filled his quota and had no vacancy, he promised him the next vacancy.

         It was not to be. Several days later a porter discovered two boys sleeping behind a crate. When he tried to rouse them, one boy ran off; the other, with flaming red hair, did not stir. Carrot was dead. The verdict at the Coroner’s inquest was “death from exhaustion, the result of frequent exposure and want of food.”

         The tragedy so affected Barnardo that he resolved, “Never again.” Soon he fixed a sign outside his Stepney home which read in three-foot letters: “No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission.” Later he added the words “An Ever-Open Door”.

         What or who prompted Barnardo to become “the father to nobody’s children”? The answer is clear. It was that One Solitary Life.

         Jesus remains the most influential figure in all of history. The world is a different place because He lived. He, moreover, continues to influence men and women today. How has He affected your life? How might He?

         O LORD, our heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; We beseech thee to bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of their fellow men. Endue them with wisdom, patience, and courage to strengthen the week and to raise up those who fall; that being inspired by thy love, they may worthily minister in thy Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy; for the sake of him who laid down his life for us, the same thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


The Rev. Victor H. Morgan is rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Blue Ridge.


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