Listen to this daily worship
Acts 4: 23-31 (NRSVA)
23 After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, 25 it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:
“Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
and the rulers have gathered together
against the Lord and against his Messiah.”
27 For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ 31 When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
To be brave you need to know fear. To be bold you need to know anxiety. Otherwise there’s nothing to be brave or bold about. Bravery is not the absence of fear, rather it is the presence of ‘you’ through the fear.
Today’s reading is about a group of tenacious loving souls, tenaciously loving each other despite what they’re up against. These members of the early church, our ancestors, gather together not because they are brave but because they want to be brave. They are not dauntless superhuman angels blindly impervious to doubt and fear. They are ordinary people in extraordinary times being extraordinary… because that’s just what ordinary people do.
It’s the courage of ordinary people, who are not feeling at all brave but that dig deep to act bravely anyway, that thrums and vibrates throughout human history — striving, rescuing, saving, innovating. What strikes me in this reading is not an otherworldly conviction and determination, but a this-worldly apprehension and honesty.
All human beings are capable of incredible bravery. We are imbued with a human spirit that can rise defiantly in the face of incredible odds. We are frail, we are ordinary, we are not immune to doubt, failure or catastrophe. We will not always be brave or bold, but we have within us a spirit that can ask for bravery.
We are brave not in spite of our fear but because of it, because we persevere anyway.
We take this moment dearest God
to remember the extraordinary courage
of ordinary people
walking walks we can’t possible imagine
or begin to grasp.
We honour them and are inspired by them
we ask for bravery too.
Spirit of God,
fill us with your tenderness and wisdom
granting us courage for the day.