Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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March 31 Post

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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -- Joshua 1:9
It takes courage to show up to suffering and stay the course. Most of us drive by the multi-car crash, stay out of the way of the ambulance, send a card instead of stopping by when someone has been sick for an extended time. That’s logical and most people would say that being a looky-loo at someone else’s sorrow is voyeuristic. There’s truth to that. And most of the time minding our own business is the best policy. Except when it isn’t.

I remember that time as a nine-year old when my parents, kid brother and I piled into the station wagon for our annual road trip out west. Once a year we got to stop at a motel with a swimming pool, and we couldn’t wait to slip into those cool, clear waters on a blistering summer day. We hadn’t been there long when my Dad looked alarmed. I could sense the change in mood and looked up to see what was wrong. Before I could blink, my Dad jumped into that pool and pulled another kid about my age out of the deep end, where he was floating face first and motionless.

Though I can’t recall what happened next, I do know the story ended well: a flurry of missing parents showed up at the right time, water sputtered from the boy’s mouth at his first gasp for air; and tears all around. I do remember my Dad’s humble desire to slip quietly out of the limelight.
Though he wouldn’t have said so, I thought he was so brave. Up to that moment, I didn’t actually know my Dad could swim.

There’s much in the news this week about by-standers who decided to stay, and watch, when it would have been easier to slip away. They mostly wanted to intervene if they could. And if not, bear witness to what happened that day so that it would not be forgotten.

There’s much in the Bible this week about by-standers who decided to pretend they never knew Jesus, who lingered in the shadows at the trial, who wanted to know what was happening yet decided to stay out of harm’s way. Jesus didn’t blame his friends for abandoning him. He forgave them and of course, so should we. Yet I wonder. When that moment comes in the snap of a finger, will we listen for God’s voice compelling us to stay, or go? And having, seen and heard, what then will we do?

Prayer: O God, you are our strength and our redeemer, and our comforter in times of trial. Show us the way you would have us go, as we travel the long road to Jerusalem. Grant us the courage to stay the course, keeping Jesus company and bearing witness to his sacrifice, all the way to the cross. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister
Community Church of Vero Beach