Father Dale Matson
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15: 51-58)
Yesterday was the feast day of Henry Martyn Priest and Missionary to India and Persia. Although the beginning passage is not from the readings assigned to his feast day, it is from the last verse of the epistle lesson of the readings for the Daily Office of Wednesday Morning Prayer and perfectly fits the theme of the lesson from Isaiah (49:1-6) assigned for Fr. Martyn’s feast day. Perhaps Isaiah too felt that he had labored in vain because neither the Northern nor Southern Kingdoms heeded his preaching and repented. His reward was from God.
While Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom few heeded his call to follow Him. He was rewarded by His Father by His resurrection and ascension to glory in Heaven.
Henry Martyn labored as a missionary in obscurity also translating the Bible and Prayer Book into Hindi and Persian. Following his death at the age of only 31, he was recognized for his accomplishments throughout the world. If we serve our Lord on this earth, St. Paul tells us that our toil is not in vain.
I believe the lesson from the Lord today was that those who do the work of the Lord do not labor in vain whether or not they see the fruits of their labor.
As I was celebrating Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist today, it did not seem any more or less eventful than any other Wednesday morning. We had the usual handful of clergy and lay folks who attend and I am always thankful when there are at least two of us so that we can celebrate the Liturgy of the Table. When everyone had communed, I began to clear the Liturgical Vessels with Fr. Carlos standing beside me to assist by taking the vessels from me and placing them on the Credence table. I had rinsed the Chalice, wiped it with the Purificator, laid the Purificator on the cup and rested the Paten on it. I then laid the Pall on top.
As I began to fold the Corporal, something caught my attention in the corner of my vision to the right. As I looked, I found myself looking into the tomb of the resurrected Christ. He was folding his burial linen. My hands stopped as I watched and then I turned and finished folding the Corporal. The Corporal represents the burial linen of Christ. Before offering a blessing and dismissal, I told those present what I had seen. Once again, Christ had made Himself known in the breaking of the bread. God had shown me what it truly means as a Priest to be the “In persona Christi”. Those who labor in Christ do not toil in vain. Amen