• Susan Cartmell

October's Ancient Heroes

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Not long ago when we gathered online for our “Coffee Hour” after Sunday services air, I asked people to talk about how they are coping six months into this pandemic, with no real end in sight. One woman reported on a visit to her great granddaughter out of state. She told us how they had planned the journey and what a great delight it was to see this little baby, born in early summer, now almost four months old. Someone else recounted a decision to take their first vacation in months. The trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire was a big deal for a family that has not been west of Hyannis in many months’ time. Someone else said that they go on their boat into a sheltered bay and read for hours making these boating staycations their getaway.

Then someone said that they have been too nervous to go very far all summer and fall. With self-deprecating humor, she added they were happy but cowards about going very far away, where they might be exposed to the COVID 19 virus. Cheerfully she summarized, “We’re happy cowards.”

Now I don’t think anyone on that call was a coward, but there is something about this pandemic that does test your courage. Everyday we all do calculations about what feels safe or prudent when we enter the grocery store, take a walk in the neighborhood, pump gas or send a child to school. How much risk can we tolerate? Times of adversity will test us, for sure.

But adversity has two sides; it tests you and also proves your strength. Fortunately, the Bible is full of stories about adversity, stories that demonstrate the strength and character of folks who come into their own and find these qualities precisely because they had to go through some hard times. This month our sermons will all be about Ancient Heroes.

There is something very comforting in discovering people who lived thousands of years ago and showed what they were made of, women and men of resilience, hope, or wisdom. Their stories from the early chapters of the Bible have lasted all these years because they have offered generations of men and women encouragement for life today.


October 4 – “Noah - Man of Faith”

We teach the story of Noah to our children. The story of an ark full of animals is so charming, but the stakes were life and death for Noah, and the journey was a journey of faith from start to finish. It is a story for our times too, as we consider what it must have been like to be cooped up in small quarters during such a flood. But Noah proved he was the right person for this moment and his story is full of similarities to ours, today.

October 11 - “Zipporah - Woman of Strength”

Not many people know Zipporah, the wife of Moses. But she was the eldest daughter of a high priest and a strong person in her own right. Time and again, she went with Moses into uncharted territory. All she had ever experienced was a predictable life in her village on the Arabian Peninsula but instead she fell in love with an adventurer, a leader for all the ages. Suddenly, she was forced into new challenges, new arenas, new territory. Her strength was remarkable and she has much to teach us today.

October 18 – “Miriam - Woman of Resourcefulness”

Miriam was the eldest in her family, and she is credited with watching over her baby brother, Moses, when he was put in the basket on the Nile. But those qualities of resourcefulness were central to her personality and helped her lead the Hebrew women through the wilderness. Again and again, Miriam faced her own fears, sized up complicated situations and found the right thing to do to help her people. Her story inspires us still.

October 25 - Jethro – “Man of Wisdom”

Jethro was the High Priest of Midian and the father-in-law of Moses. Throughout the wilderness journey, Jethro found ways to support his son-in-law Moses. He gave him sound advice, and counseled him in how to administer his responsibilities and delegate his decision-making power to others. He had the amazing talent of knowing when to say something that needed to be said, and when to keep his peace and trust that his son-in-law would find his way. That kind of wisdom stands out in every generation.

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