Pathways through Lent

The Challenge of a Gift

Psalm 45 Proverbs 9:1–6 1 Timothy 4:6–16 Luke 4:14–21

Do not neglect the gift that is in you . . . –1 Timothy 4:14

This verse sounds deceptively simple. God blesses each of us with unique
gifts; we are in turn expected to use them. Yet how often do we lack followthrough?
The daily grind can be our biggest adversary to becoming who God intends
us to be. Our problems can seem insurmountable; our gifts can feel like
weaknesses. To use our gifts in this world requires courage and hard work.
Today the Episcopal Church commemorates Anna Cooper and Elizabeth
Wright, who fought uphill battles to express their gifts as African-Americans
in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were both blessed with wisdom and
perseverance.
Elizabeth Wright dreamed of opening a school to teach African-Americans
in South Carolina. One school was burned to the ground, but she simply built
another through fundraising. She ultimately founded and ran what is today
Voorhees College.
Born to a slave mother and white father, Anna Cooper graduated from
Oberlin College to become principal of the only African-American high
school in D.C. Though she lost her job when she refused to lower her
educational standards, she continued her work, rallying for the Episcopal
Church to do more for African-American education. At 65, she earned her
doctorate from the Sorbonne, becoming the fourth African-American woman
to earn a Ph.D.
These strong teachers who overcame adversity remind us, especially in Lent,
that no matter the challenge we cannot neglect the gifts given to us by God.
–Kathryn Pharr

Anna J. Cooper, PhD
Anna J. Cooper, PhD (DC resident)

 

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