As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Tuesday 16th June 2020
Following on from Fred’s excellent reflection yesterday about Kommander Tryggve Gran, the first man to fly across the North Sea, I thought I would share the story of James Ramsey.
James Ramsay was born in the Broch (Fraserburgh) on 25 July 1733 and educated at Fraserburgh Grammar School. His father was a ship’s carpenter, but James sought a different career. He started as an apprentice to a local surgeon, followed by graduating from King’s College, Aberdeen with an MA. He continued his surgical training in London, and in 1757 entered the Navy as a ships surgeon. During his naval service, he served aboard the Arundel in the West Indies on one occasion they intercepted a Bristsih Slave ship, the Swift. Seeing first hand and the terrible and inhume conditions in which the slaves were hold captive, was a life changing experience. Later an accidental fall whist on board the Arundel left him permanently lame and he was unable to continue in the Navy.
In July 1761, James Ramsey was ordained an Anglican Priest by the Bishop of London and returned to the Caribbean and settled in what is now known as Saint Kitts. In the hope of converting slaves to Christianity he openly welcomed them into his church. He also continued his medical work, providing a free service to the poorer members of the community. He provided medical care to serval plantations and witnessed first-hand the suffering of the slaves and was able to see first-hand the conditions under which the slaves laboured and the brutality of their owners. His efforts to improve conditions for the slaves resulted in continual conflict with the slave owners. By 1777, he was an exhausted and broken man and returned to London and was involved in the increasingly influential antislavery movement. He re-joined the navy in April 1778 as a chaplain in the West Indies and returned two years late to be installed as Vicar of Teston in Kent.
At this point in his life, Ramsay become involved in a highly influential group of politicians, philanthropists and churchmen involved in the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade. In 1784 he published a number of highly influential essays including ‘The Treatment and Conversion of African Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies’ & ‘An Inquiry into the Effects of Putting a Stop to the African Slave Trade.’ Again conflict ensued with vitriolic attacks on Ramsay’s character and reputation. Undaunted, Ramsay met with the Prime Minister (William Pitt the Younger) and William Wilberforce.
Whilst James Ramsey made a huge contribution to the growing anti-slavery movement, he did not live to see the fruition of his life’s work. He died in July 1789, eighteen years before the abolition of the British Slave Trade in 1807. Writing after his death, James Watt reflected ‘the abolition of the British slave trade in 1807 probably owed more to James Ramsay's personal integrity, ethical arguments, and constructive proposals than to any other influence.’
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 25: 31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
James Ramsay embodies the relationship between faith and action. Along with many Christians (and others) he confronted the greatest social evil of his day and paid a heavy price for his convictions. Vitriolic attacks on his character and reputation left him a broken man. But he has left his mark on history.
What situations do we face in our homes, communities and nation?
There are national concerns. For example, how can we add our voice and influence to issues such as racism, social injustice such as homelessness, and environmental concerns?
There are local concerns. For example, how can we add our voice and influence to issues such as families who are struggling, young people who feel rootless, without purpose and morally confused?
There are spiritual concerns. For example, how can we add our voice and influence to see the church renewed and become more visible and active within the community?
A Peacemaker’s Prayer by Ken Sande
“A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God’s work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness.” C. H. Spurgeon
Oh Lord God,
today I am called to be a peacemaker,
but I am unfit for the task.
By nature I am a peace-faker
and a peace-breaker,
so I myself need help.
Others ask me to understand and guide them,
but my ears are dull, my eyes are dim,
and I lack the wisdom they need.
But you, Lord, have all they need,
so I come to you for supply.
Make me fit for your purposes,
so I might serve them
and honor you.
Cleanse me from my own sin,
so I will not add to their problems;
take the logs from my eyes
so I can remove the specks from theirs.
Fill me with your Spirit,
so they may benefit from your fruit:
love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Give me wisdom from above,
so I might be pure and peace-loving,
considerate and submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit,
impartial and sincere.
Open your Word to my eyes
and to my heart,
so I will have a steady lamp
to light our path.
Strip me of my own agenda and desires,
so I might look only to others’ good
and be absolutely worthy of their trust.
Help me to model everything I teach,
so others can see the way.
Give me humility to admit my weaknesses
and confess my wrongs,
so others might do the same.
Draw me again and again into prayer,
where you can strengthen and correct me.
Make me submissive — help me to show
that I myself am under authority.
Help me to treat others
as I want to be treated,
so they may see
the essence of your Law.
Make me creative, versatile, and adaptable,
so I can adjust to the surprises ahead.
Help me to accept others
as you have accepted me,
and thus bring praise to your name.
Give me faith and perseverance,
so I will not doubt your provision
or abandon your principles,
even when others fight against them.
Grant me the gift of encouragement,
to give others hope
and help them believe
that our labor is not in vain.
Help me to model your forgiveness,
so relationships are healed
and your Gospel is revealed.
Grant me discernment so that I may read
the deep waters of others’ hearts,
sort fiction from fact,
and know when it’s time to act.
Give me boldness and courage,
tempered with kindness,
to confront others in love,
so they might see their errors
and find their way back to you.
Help me to prepare thoroughly
and not presume upon your grace.
Make me just and fair,
so that even if people disagree
with my counsel they will believe
that I treated them well.
In short, Father,
please give me the Spirit of Christ,
so that I might walk in his steps
and guide your people
into the path of your peace.
The Lord’s prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
Go now, and trust in God’s mercy for your strength.
Proclaim the good news wherever God calls you,
and do not set yourselves apart from others,
but be all things to all people for the sake of the gospel.
And may God give you the strength and freedom of an eagle.
May Christ be the bread that nourishes and renews you.
And may the Holy Spirit be the rising wind beneath your wings.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Christ.