10 April 10, 2023 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not.”
(2 Corinthians 4:1; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
I grew up in a household of mixed marriage – my father was an Episcopalian (old line), and my mother was a Methodist. Even in my very young years, the Methodists still had circuit riders who still rode mules, or horses, to their circuits. They were the most selfless men one could imagine. If a farmer was down with an illness, the circuit-rider would remain at his house and do all his chores until his health returned. All he received in return was bread and a place to sleep.
My father told me this story of a circuit-riding preacher of the 1920’s:
A circuit-riding preacher arrived at Pidgeon Forge, Tennessee, to preach on a public square that was part of his circuit. He preached a fiery sermon of smoke and brimstone. Not long into his preaching, many were gathered around to hear his sermon. Finally, when several score had gathered in that small community, he concluded his sermon, sang a hymn, and passed his hat around to the congregants. When he received his hat back, he looked inside at the empty contents, placed the hat on his breast and proclaimed, “Thank thee, Lord. At least, I got my hat back.”
Here is a description of the Circuit-Rider recalled by a Peter Cartwright:
A Methodist preacher in those days, when he felt the Lord had called him to preach, instead of hunting up a college or seminary, hunted up a hardy pony of a horse, and some traveling apparatus, and with his library always at hand, namely a Bible, Hymn book, and Book of Discipline, he started, and with a text that never grew old or stale, he cried, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world!”
In this way he went through storms of wind, hail, snow, and rain; climbed hills and mountains, traversed valleys, plunged through swamps, swam swollen streams, lay out all night, wet weary, and hungry, and held his horse by the bridle all night, or tied him to a limb, slept with his saddle blanket for a bed, his saddle or saddle-bags for his pillow, and his old big coat or blanket for a covering. Often, he slept in dirty cabins, or on earthen floors, before the fire; ate roasting ears for bread, drank buttermilk for coffee, or sage for imperial tea; took, with hearty zest, deer or bear meat, or wild turkey, for breakfast, dinner, and supper, if he could get it. His text was always ready, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
This was the old-fashioned Methodist preacher’s fare and fortune.
Most of the readers of this devotion are not likely to be Methodists (the faith and doctrine of that church have all but disappeared). Some may be Baptists, or Presbyterians; or most of my readers may be Anglicans – but should we all not take note of the example before us of those old Circuit-Riding ministers of God?