We live in an increasingly complex moment in human history. The suffering across our planet continues to deepen. The longing for healing and new ways of living is palpable across all segments of humanity and even creation. What will it mean for all of us to live as truly free? Not just on the outside, but also on the inside? More and more we will need the ability to live from places where the waters run deep. We will need to make decisions from a viewpoint larger than ourselves. We will need one another to support, encourage, and build us up to take the steps of faith that we are too scared to take alone. We will need to be courageous.
When we see the word courage, it often calls forth images of a valiant warrior or a bold pioneer bravely facing great challenges against all odds. While inspiring, these images feel removed from our everyday reality.
But what if courage has more to do with claiming our identity as children of God? With being brave enough to face what is real and true in our lives and in the world and to share it with others? With claiming our gifts and stepping forward in faithfulness while we are still afraid and uncertain about the future?
This year, we want to explore what it means to live with COURAGE. We will explore first what the foundations of courage are and are not. We will dive into the life of Jesus and how he taught his disciples to be men and women of courage. We will explore what God’s vision for a courageous church is. We will dive into the lives of some of the well known and not so well known courageous characters in the Bible. And we will also explore what it means to be courageous citizens in a deeply divided nation.
Join us this year as we embark on this courageous journey!
Foundations of courage: January 5 – February 23
Pastor April Blaine is speaking unless otherwise noted.
When the people of God were liberated from Pharaoh’s oppressive regime, they left for a new land, to build new lives. But the stories of who they were in Egypt still haunted them. The work of building a new nation was also the work of building a new identity and a new story. They needed to be free internally and externally.
We begin our year by journeying through the foundational lessons we MUST learn in order to move from a false understanding of ourselves, our world, and God — into the truth about who we are, our place in the world, and who God is. During these weeks, we will examine our false views about God and self and the truth that Scripture proclaims. It takes courage to step into a new way of seeing in the world. But it can change everything. Our foundational scriptures will come from the Psalms, a place where we find raw and honest prayers from people who were wrestling with the lies and seeking to find courage.
January 5 – Courage to Claim Our Stories – Psalm 139
The foundation of a life of courage is found in our identity as a child of God. We are, at our core, good. Shame tells us that our actions define us. But the courageous act is to name the truth of our mistakes and our victories — and know that we are more than our actions. We are beloved children of God, fearfully and wonderfully made.
January 12 – Brave Enough to Forgive – Psalm 133
When things go wrong in the world, it is tempting to try and find out who is to blame. The lie tells us that if the person responsible can simply face their punishment, that somehow the wrong will be righted. But courage tells us the truth that only forgiveness makes things right and only letting go of the need for vengeance allows us to truly heal.
January 19 – Courage to Dream a New Dream – Psalm 143
Associate Pastor Jon Osmundson speaking
Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way we planned. Our best laid plans have fallen apart. And the lie is just that — that all is lost and there is no hope. What does courage look like when we are facing despair?
January 26 – Brave Enough to Keep Walking In the Darkness – Psalm 138
Max Andrick speaking
There are few things more certain in life than death. Each of us experiences death in our life, whether through a loss of someone we loved, a loss of a relationship, or a loss of a deeply held dream. The lie that we can sometimes step into in these moments is that we are being cheated and that God does not care for us. Otherwise why would this have happened? The path of courage invites us into the path of solidarity — where God walks with us and we are able to walk with others even through the hardest moments.
February 2 – Courage to Let It Go – Psalm 27
All of us want the illusion of control. We want to know what to expect. We want to know that things will be OK. When our fears and anxiety are driving the car, we can believe the lie that we cannot move ahead when uncertainty is also present. But courage reminds us that fear is not to be feared. It is just an emotion, and we can walk forward even when we cannot see and even when we are afraid.
February 9 – Brave Enough to Face Our Shadow – Psalm 51
All of us have desires for things in life. Regardless of whether these desires are for food, money, sex, or adrenaline… trying to stuff them in a drawer or keep them hidden is usually unhelpful. The lies can often tell us that our desires are bad or that we are powerless against them. But courage reminds us to be honest with ourselves and others about the struggle and to do the work of facing these desires with the support of community and others.
February 16 – Courageous Acceptance- Psalm 146
No one would claim that the world right now is as it should be. From the widespread injustices around the world, to the small scale things that happen each day where people mistreat and disrespect one another… our hearts can be filled with anger. Where are the people who will treat me right? The lie tells us that those people don’t exist and that the world is fundamentally a hostile place. It takes courage to risk vulnerability. It takes courage to learn to accept ourselves and others — despite the intensity of what is wrong.
February 23 – Brave Enough to Be Enough – Psalm 84
Cub & Boy Scout Sunday
We live in a world that keeps telling us MORE, MORE, and MORE. More work. More stuff. More money. Did we mention more work? It has become a badge of pride in our country to talk about how busy we are. It takes courage to claim that there is enough. That we are enough. That it is OK to rest and be still. That we don’t need to do anymore. We are enough.