Overseer and laborer

Daily Reading for May 17 • William Hobart Hare, Bishop of Njobrara, and of South Dakota, 1909

Rev. Father in God: This presentation of a Bishop’s Robes is the first that has occurred in the history of our youthful diocese. We who have the privilege of making it wish that it may be regarded as an expression both of our gratitude to Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, and also of our love and respect for our fellow-man who has been placed over us in the Lord. The gift itself is small; but to us it implies much. It means, first of all, that we can, as we ought to be, thankful that during these fifteen years we have had a leader who is fearless and prudent in conducting our Christian warfare; an overseer of the vineyard who is himself a diligent laborer; a preacher of the gospel who, rightly dividing the word of truth, boldly declares the whole counsel of God; a father, who, by precept and example, promotes peace and good works among the members of the household. It means, also, that we duly honor the diligence and fidelity, and thoughtfulness and perseverance with which the weighty duties of your solemn office have been performed, and appreciate the loving kindness and sympathy that have gone out from the heart of our Chief Pastor to the people of his flock. We are glad, also, to express hereby our unfeigned pleasure at being able honestly and sincerely to congratulate all Christian people in South Dakota upon the abundant blessing that has been bestowed upon this field while it has been under your spiritual charge. In the increase of true religion that has followed the increased teachings of the Gospel of Christ in His kingdom, we find good reason to thank God and take courage.

Moreover, we think that we ought to feel encouraged, not only by the success that has crowned our honest endeavors, but also by the trials and hindrances and opposition that we have been called to meet; for these have put us on our mettle, as well as made us show what kind of men we are. Especially may we be thankful concerning the charges and attacks lately made upon your character–which charges, though made against yourself alone, yet, of course, affect us all; for we are members one of another, and if any member suffer, all the members suffer with it. Even for these accusations we may be thankful, because they have been the means of revealing a noble character, and of calling forth a general expression of love and admiration–love of the man, admiration of the Bishop; love for his gentleness, charity and impartiality; admiration of his patience, firmness and conscientious discharge of duty. Out of a great evil has resulted one great good–it has shown to us all the gratifying fact that there can exist a union of true love and strict justice, even in the soul of one of our fellows. It has drawn out many expressions like that which appeared in one of the papers of our own See City: “Nothing whatever can shake the firm belief of the people of Dakota in the integrity and purity of Bishop Hare.”

The old robes put on at your consecration have worn well; doubtless they have performed their part better than any of us have ours; at last they have yielded to the wear and tear that befall all things that accompany a Bishop in his travels. May these new ones do as good service–only may they not last so long. Rather, may they be used so constantly that they will soon have to be replaced. May your long and happy life of continuous diligence and usefulness require many similar presentations at the returns of this joyous anniversary. And may the wasting of these, our present garments, that perish so quickly in the using, cause us all so faithfully to fulfill our trusts, that one day the Great Bishop and Shepherd of our souls may clothe us in the imperishable robes of His righteousness.

From an address by the Reverend J. H. Babcock of Mitchell, South Dakota, at the presentation of new episcopal robes to Bishop Hare, at the celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of his consecration, January 10, 1888. Found at http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/whhare/reminiscences1888.html

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