Thursday, April 2, 2009

Feast of James Lloyd Breck

I got up this morning and looked at the lectionary page and said to myself, "Who the heck is James Lloyd Breck?" His picture is reminiscent of a 19th Century Youth Minister, seems to me.

But that is completely unfair. The Rev. Dr. Breck, there, helped found Nashotah House in Wisconsin and Seabury in Minnesota, both still today seminaries in the Episcopal Church (though Seabury is now part of Seabury-Western in Chicago), and then he traveled to California to found "(if we may except the Romanists) the first and only Theological school, which has as yet been founded upon the Pacific Coast." (From his letters.) Right here in Benicia, not 10 miles from where I am now, in 1868.

One thing that impresses me in the very little I've read of Dr. Breck is his ability to leave a place. "In a little more than a year, Dr. Breck became convinced that the foundations laid by him at Faribault [Minnesota] were solid enough to endure, and were in hands that could be depended upon to build wisely thereupon; and the old longing to push once more to the distant frontier became irresistible."

One of the things they do not teach you in seminary is how to leave a congregation, and I'm telling you, that is not easy. One of the things that has been a great joy to me is hearing how well things are going without me in the congregations that I've left. I hear how the programs have developed and grown and I wonder if I would have been able to do them had I been there. It's impossible to know. But to have the trust to leave and know things are not only in God's hands, but the hands of other capable people, is a wonderful thing.

The reading chosen for today is very apt: Paul writes to the Corinthians, "According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it." Give Paul and James Breck credit, they knew how to move on and let others take over.

Incidentally, Dr. Breck died in Benicia on this day in 1876. Again, from the Life of the Reverend James Lloyd Breck,

The most minute account of his last illness and death will be found in the following extracts from a letter written by the Rev. Alfred Stubbs, D.D., of New Jersey, to Henry Shaw, Esq., brother-in-law of the deceased, and dated at St. Mary's School, Benicia, on Tuesday in Easter week:

My Dear Sir: I have just received your letter asking me for "some particulars of the last illness of your brother-in-law, Dr. Breck," to whom in the Providence of GOD, I was called upon to minister at that sad time, and I will endeavor, as briefly as I can, to answer your inquiries.

Dr. Breck preached his last sermon on the Sunday before Lent, and the subject was the preparation which Christ made for His death.

It seemed almost prophetic of his own.

The conclusion was in these words: "Let us go with our LORD through these forty days, and if this Lent shall be our last upon earth, and we shall never again see another Good Friday, we shall certainly be the better assured that we shall see another Easter, a Great Easter in which all of human birth will be participants, and then may we find ourselves where we would now wish ourselves to be, on the LORD'S side, with Calvary's Cross bright on our foreheads,--His crown of thorns exchanged for a crown of triumph, and with the shout of victory in our mouths."
I think I should go over and have lunch at the Camellia Tea Room to commemorate his life and ministry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You failed to mention the importance of James Lloyd Breck to Breck School in Golden Valley, Minnesota. It is named after the man for petes sake!