February 28, 2014

No.

Generally one of the first words we use as children – mostly because parents say it so often to us. 🙂  Makes you wonder how often God had to say it to us when the world was new. 🙂

People tend to generally understand that when God says no, or not right now, it’s because He has a greater plan for us, or it’s not something that would be good for us in the long run, or perhaps it’s as simple as – God’s time is not our time.

So the question then becomes, how do you know when it’s God saying no, or the “Church” saying no – and is there a difference for the average parishioner?  Today’s commemorations at morning prayer were about Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, two educators (eventually) associated with the Episcopal Church.  Interestingly, Cooper was the fourth black woman to ever achieve the degree of doctorate in the United States, although she had to get it at the Sorbonne in France.  She believed that you should expect excellence, and your students will achieve excellence.  It was that belief and refusal to accept substandard materials from which to teach that got her sacked as principal of a black high school run by the Episcopal Church.  She continued to educate throughout her life.  Wright, on the other hand, developed a program and got donations for starting a college (Voorhees College) for negroes before becoming associated with the Episcopal Church – all about the same time.

So, in this instance, it was the Episcopal Church controlling those decisions, but I have to believe that both women likely prayed about their paths and goals.  Was the Episcopal Church’s “no” to Cooper the reason that she was able to go on and get her doctorate, later becoming head of a university that helped to educate older, adult, employed blacks to improve their lots in life, not to mention her work for helping women to advance in society?  Would those things have happened without a human no?  Was God’s hand guiding there, or was He simply making lemonade from lemons, since humans have free will?

Obviously, it’s something we’ll never know – but it is interesting to contemplate.

And no – I don’t refer to people as “African-Americans” in the same way that I don’t refer to “Irish-Americans” or “Chinese-Americans”.  Unless, of course, they are here on visa from one of those countries and have decided to stay.

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