Today we remember Edmund James Peck, a missionary to the Inuit in Canada for 40 years in the northern Arctic. His mission service began in the later part of the 19th Century and continued until he retired to Toronto in 1921. He died in 1924.
We are told that early in his ministry to the Inuit people he got the feeling that they did not really understand what he was trying to do. One day he overheard a group of the Inuit talking about him. “Oh, him, he came down from heaven to save the Inuit.” He knew that he had not come down from heaven. But from that time on he tried his best to make the last part of what he had heard come true. He had come to bring the message of Jesus’ saving love to the Inuit people. He tried to make it true. I think he did.
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.