Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sermon: William Porcher Dubose

Sermon for August 18, 2015
10:00 Healing Service
William Porcher DuBose, priest, 1918
The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse
St. Philip’s In The Hills Parish, Tucson, AZ
For online access to the readings click here
I speak to you in the name of One God:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Today is the Feast Day of William Porcher DuBose, who died in 1918.
What do you know about him?

Biographical information includes:

·        Known for his original and creative thinking, particularly his theology of experience
·        Born into a Huguenot family who settled in SC, 1836. 
·        Attended The Citadel and later U VA.
·        Called away by the Civil War, twice wounded and became a POW.
·        Returned and served as Chaplain to Confederate Army.
·        After war, was ordained in 1866 and after serving as rector in SC churches, became theology professor and later Dean of Un of So in Sewanee, TN.
·        Through a series of books, he probed the inner meaning of the Gospels, “treating life and doctrine in dramatic cialogue, fusing contemporary thought and criticism with strong inner faith.”
·        Complicated richness of his perspective not easily captured in a few words
·        Of importance, he discussed that the reality of salvation
o   made possible through divine initiative; God’s initiative comes first, … “God is not our Father because we are His children, but we are His children because He is our Father.” [1]
o   This underscores the importance and reality of God’s initiative in the saving process.  “We can love God only as He first loves us.”
·        Here is a sample (hand out sheets):
·        “God has placed forever before our eyes, not the image but the Very Person of the Spiritual Man. We have not to ascend into Heaven to bring Him down, nor to descend into the abyss to bring Him up, for He is with us, and near us, and in us. We have only to confess with our mouths that He is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead—and raised us in Him—and we shall live.”[2]

Clearly, DuBose was a gifted teacher and writer with a strong faith.  For us, today, we can see how he wove his complex life experiences with
the intellect to interpret those experiences
in light of Scripture.

That’s the deep lesson we hear from him and can draw from in our need of healing: That through complex life experiences, interwoven from what we learn in scriptures, we might experience real healing of God’s grace.

I think that is why the lectionary authors chose this reading from Deuteronomy, which includes that line, “…the word is very near to you: it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.”

Or, consider the gospel story
of the folks on the road to Emmaus. 
They were walking along and found among them
a person who began interpreted their experiences
in light of scriptures’ stories
of Moses and all the prophets. 
They were taken by this man, and
invited him to stay with them through dinnertime
to continue to weave the scriptures
into their experiences.

So, take a moment now to reflect what needs healing in your life.

Can you think of a scripture with similar fabric?
Perhaps a parable or psalm or phrase
that gives some insight to your experience?
Would anyone like to share or explore with us?

In this process of reflection of
experience and scripture,
scripture and experience,
our relationships with each other
and with God are deepened. 
We see our healing in a new light.

And now, as we begin to share communion, may all our eyes be opened as we take, bless and break bread, as we offer that communion feast with each other.

May our eyes be opened and recognize Jesus Christ in our midst.

May our hearts continue to burn within us as he continues to stitch our lives to scripture through Him – the fullness of all in all.


[1] Excerpt from Robert Boak Slocum, The Theology of William Porcher Dubose: Life, Movement, and Being

[2] William Porcher Dubose Biography, Holy Women, Holy Men

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