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be bold

The Rev. Lori Walton

One does not have to look far to find examples of everyday human beings, people like you and me, encountering God with open ears and open hearts, listening and watching in such a way that the encounter compels them to do something bold.  From the ordinary to the extraordinary.  Imagine Abraham standing under a night sky and looking at the stars scattered across the ink of darkness and knowing God is calling him forward.  Imagine Mary’s dawning awareness of the life within her, made known by an angel’s visit, but made real as that child was formed within her womb, her purpose growing as the child grew.  Imagine James and John on the docks of Galilee, seagulls squawking and fishermen bustling, pulling in nets to be distracted by this man who beckons to them to follow, and the invitation and the man are so captivating, they don’t even hesitate.

And finally, not an ordinary man but one with human nature, nonetheless, imagine Jesus in the wilderness, tempted by his own humanity, struggling with the demon, and then embracing the God and goodness within to reject sin.  Imagine him pouring out his life for the life of the world, pushing forward in spite of the danger, the naysayers, the arguments, the difficulty.  Imagine him as he walks from Judea to Jerusalem, from the river to the cross, determined, focused, and confident that he is never alone.

I have not counted myself, but I have heard it said that the phrase “fear not” or “be not afraid” is in the bible 365 times.  True or not, we know it pops up a lot.  If you think about it, this God-given message appears whenever someone is at a pivotal moment, facing something new or something unseen.  Abraham, Mary, James and John and even Jesus stand at the edge with the familiar and safe behind them, the unknown and scary in front of them, and they hear the message, “be not afraid.”  And why not be afraid?  Because in every situation they were following the call of God, hearing God’s voice either loud or soft, and trusting that God was with them every step of the way.  They stepped out in faith and were bold.  But not bold because they were so brave.  Bold because God had their backs.  Bold because there was nothing they were being asked to do in which God was not right there with them, giving them the strength and the patience and the gumption to do something different, something that would really matter.

This year, with the leadership of the vestry and (hopefully) the enthusiasm of the parish, we will be stepping out in faith to be bold.  On an individual basis, you might be challenged to make some significant changes in your life that better aligns you with what God has in mind for your life.  Could it be better self-care?  A new job?  A deeper prayer life?  What bold thing resonates with you?  On a communal level, the vestry will be looking at various ideas of how we, as Church, can be bold.  Could it be a more generous offering of our campus?  A more assertive sharing of our faith?  A more expansive welcome to the disenfranchised?  At this stage, we are still listening and dreaming, so I am not sure.  What I am sure about is that it is time.  Time to reenergize, time to move, time to matter, time to be bold.

As we move forward into this year, vestry and staff members will be sharing their stories of what it means to be “Emboldened by Faith” in their newsletter submissions.  Read them and meditate on your own stories of courage and join us as we faithfully walk into the future, knowing that God is with us, guiding, loving, and giving us all that we need to do the work we are meant to do.