This is the beginning of a new year-long series for this blog.
During the past two years, I've felt my own spiritual life helped by committing to year-long reflections. In 2014, I listened to and wrote about Bach's sacred cantatas, on or near the special days for which they were written. In 2015, I've written short summaries of interfaith holidays. Working on these posts has kept me focused upon spiritual realities during times when I was very busy, or blah-feeling, or distressed, or whatever---all the usual things that make a person neglect matters of the Spirit.
Beginning with this last day of All Hallows' Tide, a time of remembering the saints of the church, I want to write about persons who are honored on different liturgical lists. A "saint" can mean someone formally canonized by the Roman Catholic church, or any servant of God who became historically memorable. Lord willing, I'll continue this series until All Saints' Day 2016, which puts me in sight of my sixtieth birthday. It will be a personal way that I discipline myself to think about matters of the Spirit as the days and weeks go by, plus (as with the other two series) I'll learn and share interesting things as I go. I've bookmarked sites of saints on the Lutheran and Episcopal calendars and also a Roman Catholic and an Orthodox site. Each day, I'll select at least one saint from among these calendars and write something about her or him, based on Wikipedia and other online sites.
I live in St. Louis, which has been a focal point of the Black Lives Matter movement, so it's wonderfully appropriate that the first saint (in this case, from the Lutheran calendar), is Daniel Alexander Payne, an American bishop, college leader, educator, and author who was a major shaper of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was one of the founders of Wilberforce College in Ohio and was the first African American college president in the U.S. He also led efforts to support southern freedmen following the Civil War. He died on this day in 1893, aged 82.
Thank you, Lord, for Bishop Payne.