Courage is the quality of mind and spirt that enables us to face difficulty without fear. Easier said than done, but fundamentally critical in our times, so First-Plymouth is embarking on a year-long quest to inspire and celebrate courage.
“Now, more than ever, as we witness a resurgence of racism and acts of hatred, it is critically important for modern Christians to fully grasp their power to stand for unity in a divided world,” explained Senior Minister Jim Keck. “Sometimes ‘courage’ means something as simple as choosing to be kind; to reach out to someone who could use a helping hand; to decide to get involved in something positive. It can mean packing backpack meals for hungry kids, helping serve meals at Matt Talbot’s Kitchen and Outreach, or just talking to someone who looks lonely. It doesn’t have to take a ‘fierce’ form, but rather demonstrate an essential quality of being based on our Christian faith.
“Courageous acts, big and small, happen every day through the actions of individuals willing to stand up and do the right thing. When we bring intentional focus to the new possibilities for unity that stem from many small but defining acts based in courage, we also begin to amplify the ennobled path illuminated for us by the ancient wisdom of scripture,” said Keck.
Throughout the year, First-Plymouth will present a sermon series, a special community-wide Cathedral Worship series, an Abendmusik concert focused on courage, FP Kids sessions on living as a courageous Christian during Wednesday Night Live, and much more around the central theme courage.
The special three-part evening Cathedral Series, “Modern Courage Inspired by Timeless Wisdom,” will focus on nonviolence, nationalism and racism. The Cathedral Series, jointly created by Associate Minister Patrick Messer and Minister of Music Tom Trenney, will engage the congregation and the greater community through music and ‘fierce conversation’ in facing some of the most seemingly intractable barriers to unity of our time.
“Drawing on the strength of the holy spirit, courage allows us to take risks to do the right thing – the thing that connects and unites rather than demeans and divides. Courage is the most fundamentally important quality needed to heal any societally-produced divisions. When we nurture a courageous heart, we also set the stage for greater unity in our world,” said Trenney.
“Having the courage to do the right thing isn’t always the popular or easy thing to do, but it can demonstrate to others how they can be better as well. As is verified in scripture, courage comes from God, so when you are acting in a courageous way, you are never there alone,” said Messer.
Here is a preview of what is to come as the First-Plymouth congregation and community focuses on courage.
“The Courage to Be,” based on a book by the same name by author and theologian Paul Tillich
Four Pastors and the Bible: Rethinking Courage
Wednesdays, September 5-26.
Pastors Keck, Messer, Schmidt and Langlais will explore four moments of unexpected courage in the Bible.
Cathedral Series: Modern courage inspired by timeless wisdom
Three extraordinary evening worship services you won’t want to miss.
Sept. 23, 7 pm: The Courage to Stand for Love in Times of Violence
Nov. 18, 4 pm: The Courage to Stand for Love Within the Borders of Nationalism
Jan. 21, 7 pm: The Courage to Stand for Love in the Midst of Racism
Abendmusik Nov. 4: A special concert devoted to courage, “We Will Rise”
In addition to these events, all FP Ministry Boards are being invited and encouraged to define the ways in which courage informs their ministries on behalf of our church.
“I have reached out to each board chair to begin that discussion, so that they can help us all in our quest to live and act more courageously through our Christian fellowship,” said Keck.
“We have great challenges, and great opportunities before us especially at this time. By focusing on courage, informed by scripture, we can develop an essential framework intended to lead us to a more inspired and fulfilling life, and a more unified community and world.”
Throughout the coming year, First-Plymouth will celebrate acts of courage, small and large.
We all know someone who stood up to a bully, spoke out against racism or demeaning, divisiveness, but those small, brave acts often go unnoticed, even though they are the very threads that weave the fabric of a kinder world with a stronger sense of human unity.
If you know of someone in our congregation who took a risk to stand up and do the right thing in the face of opposition, let us know. We also see small acts of kindness as acts of courage. If you know someone who went out of their way to include another person or offer the gift of friendship in a trying time or had the courage to get involved in making the world a kinder, better place, that certainly has a positive impact.
Email Addie Vortherms: firstname.lastname@example.org.