About the Commemoration
Two nineteenth-century social reformers may be remembered together on this day.
Amalie (Amelia) Sieveking, an early and vigorous worker for the emancipation of women, was born July 25,1794, in Hamburg, Germany, and was orphaned at an early age. Not long afterward, her brother, who had been her support, also died, and she found a home with relatives. She grew in her love of the Bible and in her desire to help the poor. Vincent de Paul (1576-1660) and the Sisters of Mercy he founded (see September 27) had attracted a good deal of interest among evangelical leaders for their devoted service and their organization. The sisters belonged to a motherhouse but went out to serve in hospitals and prisons, among the poor and the sick, and wherever they were needed. Their service was given in response to a specific human need. At the age of eighteen, Amalie Sieveking tried to create an evangelical sisterhood to work with the poor and needy but could not find support for her idea. With a few associates she began a school for young women and taught the poor on Sunday afternoons. In 1830 a cholera epidemic broke out in Hamburg, and, in the absence of trained nurses and her invitation to other women to join her being rejected, by herself she began caring for the victims of the epidemic. On December 13, 1831, the first cholera patient was admitted to the hospital, and Sieveking entered the hospital with her and remained there until the epidemic was ended.
In this work she encountered the deep poverty of large parts of the population and, as a result, in 1832 organized in Hamburg the Society for the Care of the Poor and the Sick This group of women volunteered their time for the work of social welfare and the organization became a model for similar groups in many cities of northern Germany. Pastor Theodor Fliedner twice attempted to enlist her service at his institutions, once as Mother Superior at Kaiserswerth and again for Bethany in Berlin, but she would not give up her work in Hamburg. Amalie Sieveking died April 1, 1859. She is commemorated on that date by the German Evangelical Calendar of Names (1962).
Frederick Denison Maurice, the son of a Unitarian minister, was born in 1805. He attended Cambridge University but as a nonconformist was excluded from receiving a degree. After several personal crises, he became an Anglican, went to Exeter College, Oxford, and was ordained in 1834. Two years later he became chaplain of Guy’s Hospital in London where he lectured regularly on moral philosophy and wrote the first and best-known of his many books, The Kingdom of Christ (1838). In this book, as in his other writings, he sought to apply the Christian faith to social and political life. His strong belief in the incarnation and the visible church led him to take up the cause of social reform. He and his friends were known as “Christian Socialists” and awakened the Church of England to concern for the material as well as the spiritual welfare of the working classes. In 1854 he founded and served as the first principal of the “Working Man’s College.” To the Church he preached richer fellowship; to the socialists he proclaimed the necessity of Christianity. The Christian Socialist Movement, he declared, “will commit us at once to the conflict we must engage in sooner or later with the unsocial Christians and the unchristian Socialists.” He died at Cambridge April 1, 1872. He is on the calendar in the American Book of Common Prayer.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
From The Kingdom of Christ by Frederick Denison Maurice
Our Lord came among men that he might bring them into a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, a kingdom grounded upon fellowship with a righteous and perfect Being….
For that men are not to gain a kingdom hereafter, but are put in possession of it now, and that through their chastisements and the oppositions of their evil nature they are to learn its character and enter into its privileges, is surely taught in every verse of St Peter; and that love has been manifested unto men, that they have been brought into fellowship with it, that by that fellowship they may rise to the fruition of it, and that this fellowship is for us as members of a family, so that he who loveth God must love his brother also, is affirmed again and again in express words of St John.
Frederick Denison Maurice, The Kingdom of Christ, vol. 2, ed. A. R. Vidler (London: SCM, 1958), 256-57.
Almighty God, you restored our human nature to heavenly glory through the perfect obedience of our Savior Jesus Christ: Keep alive in your Church, we pray, a passion for justice and truth; that, like your servants Frederick Denison Maurice and Amalie Sieveking, we may work and pray for the triumph of your Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Readings: Psalm 72:11-17 or 145:8-13; Ephesians 3:14-19; John 18:33-37
Hymn of the Day: “Father eternal, Ruler of creation” (H82 573, LBW 413)
Prayers: For all who are working for the renewal and unity of the church; For the gift to see Christ in other people; For all who apply the message of the Bible to national and civic life; For a renewed sense of compassion for the poor and infirm; For those who teach the underprivileged the way of God.
Preface: Baptism (BCP, LBW)