A greeting from our rector, Fr. Duane Nettles, during his time in Belize on a mission trip with Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (Richmond, Virginia.)
Meeting Cam Davis in the Holy Land. 26.July.2015
For several days now, I've chatted with Jim and Caroline. They are on pilgrimage with others from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia. A beautiful older couple, their love and friendship is readily apparent - a wonderful site to see. Right away, Jane-Allison and I connected with Jim and Caroline. Jim grew up Baptist like I did. They are both active in their Episcopal church and live across the street from Virginia Theological Seminary, where they frequently adopt seminarians. As you can imagine, we have plenty to discuss. On the second day, we discovered that they know the daughter-in-law of the New Orleans man from whom I recently purchased the new French doors for the rectory. She was a seminarian at VTS and is now an Episcopal priest in Memphis. Small Episcopal world, right?
This morning (Sunday), we woke up early to make a two hour drive to Nazareth to worship at Christ Church Anglican before touring the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, the historic site of the ruins of Mary's home and, thus, the location of the Annunciation. So, it was already a special day for me: worship with a small Anglican/Episcopal congregation in the hometown of Jesus and then visit a site very important to our church.
As I walked on the bus, Jane-Allison had settled us into two seats next to Jim and Caroline. I was glad: Jim would have time to finish an interesting family story he began the day before. For the first fifteen minutes, we rode in silence. It was early after all. Jim then spoke up. He said he used to have a friend who live in New Orleans who went to Davidson College with him. I said, funny, one of my dear parishioners who passed away about four years ago went to Davidson. I added, "He would be about 75 today." Jim said that's his age. I quickly responded back and said the parishioner was James Cameron Davis. Jim lit up. "Cam! He was my roommate Junior year at Davidson! We were great friends." On and off for the rest of the day, we shared stories about Cam. Jim telling me about a young Cam. I telling him about an older Cam. I was able to fill him on Cam's life in New Orleans with some of the stories Cam had shared with me. Both of us were touched by this unexpected connection.
After communion at Christ Church - a congregation about Annunciation's size and in a building with a similar feel and style - I lit a candle for Cam before returning to my seat. I never expected to meet Cam Davis in the Holy Land! It brought Annunciation even closer to me today. In talking about Cam, I also shared about Annunciation.
I now write this, at midnight, sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Small waves crash against the rocky shore line. A young German pilgrim is quietly playing a guitar in a Spanish or Moorish style. This is Galilee, where Christ performed so many of his miracles. The days have been very hot but the night cools down, especially with the breeze from the sea. And my thoughts are reflecting on yet another powerful day of my pilgrimage through the land where our LORD lived and still lives. May we continue to remember those who have gone before us and await new friends yet to come in out midst. May we be open to the surprising places and ways God can touch our lives. Because Christ still performs miracles in our lives when we least expect them. Alleluia, Alleluia.
I wrote the following during my tour of the Documentation Center at the Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg, Germany. The center documents the rise, fall, and crimes of the Nazis...
This is how a nation remembers it's bloody and awful history. The German nation opened the documentation center on the site of the old Nazi Party parade grounds in 2001. There is no honor for the men and women who sought to subjugate and eradicate people's considered undesirable: Jew, gypsy, Communist, gay, Christian pastor, and many more. Instead, a solemn place remembers the victims and how this bloody history came to be. The conqueror's crown jewel, a building intended by Hilter to gather the National Socialist Party, has been adapted to shame him and give honor to the millions of victims.
It is a lesson Americans, and especially Southerners, could replicate and follow. We could acknowledge our unwillingness to atone for our sins and place the honor on those who were subjugated and killed. We could honor the enslaved and subjugated peoples who created the wealth and literally built our cities, of all stripes and colors.
Christ came to turn the vanquished into the victor and the victor into the vanquished. When a group of people seeks to make another group less than what the Creator intended them to be, the suppressor should be removed from lofty places of honor and as Mary, Mother of God, said about her son, "He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek."
Germany has remembered its past well without giving it honor - a difficult task. Thank you for the brave and thoughtful example.