Shawn over at LO-FI Tribe has put up a Ping Homily??? for March. He writes a short homily and then asks other to join in on writing about that theme. This month he writes about Courage and I am struck by his brief yet powerful message, exclaiming that we know so little of what courage really means.
Taking his cue, I would like to share two ideas of courage: children are often very courageous and so are peacemakers; these two are closely related because their struggle is against those more powerful (in terms of size and might) in the world. Courage is a word that is overused in America, and often it is used in regards to our military and patriotism. Those who fight for the powers??? and who are themselves powerful are often seen as courageous. This does not grasp a view of courage that I think God intends to encourage in creation. In the Bible, the powerless baby Jesus, who lays wrapped in infant clothes, is both the sign of weakness, fragility, and dependence and the sign of peace and hope to come. He is the one who was promised to bring a kingdom of peace and justice. King Herod, a man of sheer power and military might, wanted to kill this helpless infant child. The powers were colliding then as they are now. There are many stories where peace triumphs over the powerful throughout all of history, and the Bible is no exception.
The young shepherd boy, David, is a sign of courage too. Children seem to have a way of reconnecting reality with a simple faith, a non-complex hope; often children point us to God in their own courage and resilience. David, when he was only a child, said about the giant Goliath, Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God???? And then he says to the king, Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight against the Philistines.??? I am struck very deeply by this young man’s courage to face his almost certain death.
But we don’t need to reach back into the old days of the Scriptures to find courage among children, they surround us everywhere we turn. Many of us grew up facing Goliath’s, many of us had Herod’s waiting for us at home everyday after school. And this is just the beginning of a realization of who can embody the kind of courage we are to embrace. Children all over the world, children with and without parents, children with diseases, children with no homes, education, food, and water live…struggle to live this very moment.
The other kind of courage often follows from this and comes from those who physically try to save those children, and not just the children but the mother’s (and father’s) that Shawn spoke of. I find people who face the powers of evil, like Goliath and Herod, in the name of justice, peace and non-violence, to be among the most courageous of all. Tom Fox, a Quaker who was a part of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, is one example of this peace embodied courage. Courage challenges the powers that wish to deny and destroy the powerless. His courage came from his faith in God’s power, the same way David’s and baby Jesus’ did. When we are courageous we are in some way putting faith in something or someone. Fox is not alone in his courage facing the powers, many others have gone before him and many will follow in the footsteps of David, Jesus and Tom Fox – in that child like courage that confronted the those who are powerful and use it to harm others.