This month our theme for sermons will be Courage. We often think of courage as a quality that belongs to people who run into burning buildings selflessly to help someone. And certainly that is a great example of courage. We think courage as the the defining quality of soldiers in battle and people in extreme and life-defining times of testing. But, really there are plenty of examples of courage all around us in our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends. Courage is often the ability to do small deeds valiantly or persistently. Courage is the ability to defend someone who has no one else to stand for them. Courage is the ability to do what is right, despite the personal cost.
President Kennedy made a name for himself with his book Profiles in Courage. This month I will try to sprinkle this blog and my sermons with modern profiles of people who show unusual courage.
I found a great story this week in Christian Century Magazine (January 2, 2019)
In late October an Armenian family living in the Netherlands. They had fled from Armenia and arrived in the Netherlands in 2010 after the father had received death threats for his political activism. The Dutch government originally gave this family asylum but withdrew it in 2018 without explanation.
They grew fearful that they might be deported, so they sought refuge in a church. Churches everywhere have a strong tradition of protecting people who are in their sanctuary. It explains why the very word sanctuary has both religious and political connotations. In this instance the sanctuary offers both a religious home and a true haven for these refugees. But the Dutch law is quite specific that civil authorities are prohibited from entering a sanctuary only while a service of worship is in progress.
So in order to protect these Armenian refugees from being arrested and deported they needed to be sheltered in worship. What might seem an insurmountable obstacle to most of us proved to be only a challenge for the Dutch clergy. They bonded together from many churches and formed a plan to protect this family.
Pastors have arrived from all over the Netherlands, coming to the church in waves on a coordinated schedule. They lead continuous worship services, back to back night and day since November.
Blessings to you,
Good New about the trip to England: The airfare has been reduced by $150. The company was able to get a lower fare this week. Hope this serves to entice you to consider the trip. We will open it to other churches this month.