Yesterday at noon, 9 of us sat in a circle 6-feet apart in the courtyard outside of the Welcome Center by the circular driveway. As some of you know, this spot has emerged as our sacred gathering space during COVID, a place where our staff meets on Tuesdays for our weekly meeting; a place where clergy meet with parishioners 1-on-1 to talk and visit, laugh, cry and pray; a place where communion bread is blessed, broken and shared, but only after the “sacrament” of the giving and receiving of hand-sanitizer has occurred. On the other side of this season of pandemic, when COVID is in our rear view mirror (and yes, my friends, hang on, hang on! That day will come!), I know I will look at that space with new eyes and a new appreciation. Who knew?

As the 9 of us gathered yesterday, I told a bit of the story of Thecla, a a first century noble woman who was so moved and inspired by the good news of God in Christ, as preached by the Apostle Paul, that she left the life she knew to travel and spread the good news alongside him — extraordinary for a woman to do, at that time. The stories of Thecla’s life and adventures are nothing short of extraordinary, and include an incident where a Providential storm saved her from burning at the stake, and another instance where her God-filled presence so affected the beasts around her that, instead of attacking and killing her, as her accusers intended in a public execution, the beasts protected her so she escaped unharmed.

After hearing some of Thecla’s story, the 9 of us took some time to reflect on courage and where each of us finds courage in our lives, today. One shared she finds courage in the daily example of our front line medical responders who risk their lives daily to care for others. Two others shared they find courage in the public witness and examples of Dr. Fauci and the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Alongside these examples of courage, other “quieter” ones were shared. Finding courage in the example of a fellow parishioner who meets each day with a positive spirit and who makes sure the children of her neighbor, a struggling single-dad, always have homemade cakes on their birthdays. Finding courage in the example of a young woman in college, the captain of her sports team and the only woman of color on her team, who recently told her teammates how much it hurts her when they use racial slurs in her presence. Finding courage and hope in the simple gesture of people of goodwill everywhere, who choose to wear masks in public spaces to keep all of us safe.

We may not be a Thecla or a Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but to proclaim Jesus as our Lord in this day and age — and even more, to try and fashion our lives in the way Jesus lifts up for us — takes courage. May the Spirit of the Living God embolden and encourage you today, to live your life with faith, hope and love, so the light of Christ is made visible and made flesh, in You.

~ Cristina