Faith, Courage, Visions

The story is told of a community about to be covered by water due to the construction of a dam in the area. One elderly villager said he would not move because the he used for cooking and warmth had been lit by his grandfather years ago and had been kept going by the family since. He felt if he moved he would betray his family. Finally he agreed to relocate when the engineers said they could move the embers of the fire.

Perhaps there are live embers we too need to preserve. There may also be embers we need to “stir into flame” to become stronger in our commitment to God’s ministry. Let’s look at three very important embers: faith, courage, and vision.

Faith. The saints of old appear to have had more time than we do for personal devotions. They write of rising before dawn, spending several hours in prayer and study. Some tell of periods of weeks that they concentrated on their relationship with God. That amount of time is not available to most of us as we juggle family, work, church and self in a vicious circle of demands. Finding even a few minutes each day to read a scripture is often difficult, but extremely necessary for life to have meaning and purpose. The discipline of centering our thoughts on God and Jesus each day will keep alive and strengthen the ember of our faith.

Courage. There are times each of us feel a sense of unease or even trouble within our hearts. We know there is something must do or a decision we need to make. We sense something is not right with a relationship; we see someone hurt or in need; we watch our community/nation/world go down paths of self-destruction. Courageous people are part of our heritage. They took on societal issues of slavery, poverty, racism, sexism, oppression. Others worked for peace, called for education and health care for all, and spoke out and stood firmly for justice. The ember of courage must be stirred into flame within each of us. It takes courage to be yourself; to stand for the abused and neglected children; to speak out for equality for all people; to work against the power structures of community or nation; to be a witness of God’s saving grace. God promises to provide us with courage and strength for whatever task we are called to do.

Vision.  God has a vision of the world, a world of peace, justice and wholeness. Jesus came to bring about that wholeness, that shalom; to restore the brokenness of the world. Jesus preached the healing and harmony necessary to bring about God’s vision. As followers of Christ, that vision must be within us. We must embody God’s vision of the world; we must work to bring an end to hostilities between peoples; we must be vulnerable to the sufferings of  others; we must build communities that are reconciling and healing; and we must strive for harmony with all peoples and the creation. Live the vision, thus challenge others to join in making God’s vision a reality.

As we start Lent on February 14, think about these dormant embers within your heart and spend time in “stirring them into flame” as a goal of your Lenten journey.

Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence


Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.