A Bible Verse about Strength
(The Lord) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
A Story of Courage
There are endless examples of courage buried in the ruins of the Holocaust, but Irena Sendler’s story stands out. When the Nazis invaded her native Poland and rounded up all the Jews into a walled-in ghetto, Sendler knew what was going to happen. She was a social worker and got credentials as a nurse so she could sneak food and medicine into the ghetto. What she snuck out was even more phenomenal: It’s estimated that Sendler and her group helped get approximately 2500 children out of the ghetto—sedated and placed in the bottom of toolboxes or lying in burlap sacks at the bottom of her truck—and sent them through a network of likeminded comrades to Christian orphanages, where they were given new identities. She kept their real names in a jar buried in her backyard.
Sendler was eventually caught by the Nazis, who imprisoned and tortured her, breaking both of her legs. When the war ended she devoted herself to reuniting children with their families, though it proved nearly impossible to do so.
Ground Work: Read Galatians 3:23-29
Irena Sendler and her partners in this work of liberating the Jewish children in the ghetto of Poland were courageous risk-takers. It is one thing to risk your life for your family or friends but quite another thing to risk it for children you do not even know. Irena was driven by the at-risk lives of these Jewish children, and together with a team of like-minded, justice working and life saving gamblers, they worked miracles. Keeping these children from the jaws of Nazi death camps was an ultimate example of courage and compassion.
World War II provided many heroes who risked and gave their life for the sake of others – even future generations of Americans. The ocean bed of the South Pacific and the beaches of Normandy are but a few examples littered with the bodies of heroes. Giving your life for the greater good is pure heroism. As a result of American, Russian, French, English and German-resistance heroes (to name just a few), many countries have enjoyed the gift of freedom.
As Christians, we have received the gift of forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus for the sake of our sins. Forgiveness is a gift which cost Jesus his life. He died that we might live in his name. With forgiveness comes the freedom to live in confidence that we have been claimed as God’s children. We live and walk in the freedom of the promise that we belong to Christ Jesus. We no longer live just to ourselves but to the greater good that God desires.
Our history as humans is fought with wars, enslavement, racism, and other acts of violence. Despite the advancements in literacy and general education in our world, the brutality of killing of human life continues. The crucified Jesus has come to dismantle the walls of division that have been designed to keep us separate. No life is better or more important than another. In same token, no one is worse or less important than another. God’s love in Christ is for all people.
As followers of Jesus, we the church have been called to live and act in a higher way in our world. God wants to work through the church to welcome and create a way that builds bridges rather than walls; to heal fractures in family relationships; and to open the way to new relationships. God can only accomplish in and through the church as we allow God to change our individual attitudes towards the stranger, the outsider and any person who is different from ourselves. Our Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, is leading our church forward in this effort by calling each of our ELCA congregations to be invested in anti-racism training and work. As we overcome our fears and embrace God’s diversity, we can better work to bring our city together as the safe and great place to live, work and raise a family as God intends.
- How do you make sense of the continued violence in our community and world?
- What gives you hope in the midst of this insanity?
- What do you see to be the gift of the diversity of people and cultures in our city? What can we do to celebrate it even more?
- Who are some of the heroes in your life ?
A Final Thought about Love (Let all that you do be done in love, 1 Corinthians 16:14):
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action, 1 John 3:16-18.