Here is the sermon that I preached Wednesday noon at the Monastery. In the beginning I had thought that I would give a very brief account of Fr. Peck’s life and work and then speak more extensively about what the Japanese theologian, Kosuke Koyama had said about the “Great Commission” not being just “go” on mission, but “go therefore” in the spirit of Jesus’ sacrificial offering on the cross. But as I wrote I realized that would introduce too many distracting themes, and miss the point of honoring the pioneer mission work of Edmund Peck among the Inuit in Northern Canada. I did incorporate the idea of “go therefore”, but I concentrated on the main theme.
The life of Edmund Peck is a good example of the work of the Holy Spirit.
He began life in a worker’s tenement in Manchester, England and entered the Royal Navy while still a child, something quite common in those times.
A series of illnesses and accidents were seen by him as movements of grace, a gift freely given and freely received. Thus in 1876 he volunteered for missionary work in the Canadian Arctic.
He began his mission work in the Hudson’s Bay region.
Eventually he moved farther North to work among the Inuit people on Baffin Island. He continued to work there until he retired to Toronto in 1921, and died there in 1924.
It was said of him that Edmund Peck was as handy with wood, bolts and iron as he was with the Bible and Book of Common Prayer. He gave his whole life for the salvation of The Inuit people of Northern Canada.
We cannot know how consciously aware he was of the verses at the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel, read today, when he volunteered to do missionary in Northern Canada. He certainly carried out their meaning in his life among the Inuit people of Northern Canada.
The Great Commission as today’s Gospel reading is often called has long been considered among Jesus’ most significant instructions to his Apostles for carrying the message of the Gospel into the world. Such Mission work needs to be Christ-like going. It is not just ‘go’, but ‘go therefore’ in the Spirit of Christ.
From the information I have been able to read about Edmund Peck’s missionary work it fits exactly as being a sharing of the Gospel message.
Jesus’ words to his Apostles in today’s Gospel were not only “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” but also “teach them everything that I have commanded you.” That would include healing, forgiving, andloving one another.
I think that is what he did there in Northern Canada.
Give thanks for the example of Edmund James Peck whom we remember today.
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