Lent this year begins on Wednesday March 5, and stretches for six weeks, ending with Holy Week and Easter on Sunday April 20th. This year, we’ll be gathering on Wednesdays in Room 102 for soup, and for special music, and Holden Evening Prayer in the chapel. Within that prayer, Pr. Katherine and I will also be offering reflections on “Boldness & Courage in Mission & Ministry.”
St. Matthews’ vision statement is that we be an “hospitable, inspiring, spiritual and involved Christian community.” This statement, crafted by our congregation some seven years ago, is brimming full of energy, calling us to bold and courageous action.
What does it take to have a vision – or even a bit of the vision – materialize in the real world? Two things, I think, need to happen.
One: First, we need to be sufficiently excited by, inspired by, and on board with, a certain vision. I like what Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood, teach them to long for the immensity of the sea…”
Do we long to see a particular vision fulfilled? Are our imaginations fired up, our hearts moved, and our minds excited by the ministry our Lord Jesus carried out, extending loving, compassionate care, especially toward those needing the basic necessities of good health, good food, good shelter, and good friendships? Do we long for the goodness, fairness, and beauty of the reign of God in our midst today? Do we “long for the immensity of the sea”?
Two: Second, we need to act, to start doing something, even if it’s one small thing toward realizing the vision. This may feel like grunt work; on its own, tedious and mindless. But, nevertheless, we do our little bit, always with one eye on the larger vision, reminding ourselves of our “longing for the immensity of the sea.” We do our little bit, calling to mind the goodness, fairness and beauty of the reign of God in our midst.
And we act, despite the drudgery of the work, the resistance we may experience, or the fear we may feel. This takes real boldness and courage, the kind that firefighters need when entering a burning building, the kind that a church member needs when inviting her non-churched neighbour for the first time to worship with her on Sunday morning. Often it’s not easy to do something advancing the vision of God’s reign, but we do it anyway, realizing `practice makes perfect’, and being ready for failure. Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” Courage is acting despite our fear. We pray for this kind of boldness and courageous to act, to try, to do something, despite our fear, or failures, or false starts. We keep plugging away, persistently trying, while keeping an eye on the vision of God’s reign in our midst, and our “longing for the immensity of the sea…”