January 2013 - Heroes of Faith
Heroes of Faith
In almost every culture stories of heroism, triumph in adversity and victory in the face of defeat are told and re-told to inspire and encourage. Stories about individuals and groups, most likely long since dead that help to spur on those of us who are alive.
Maybe like me as you read the obituaries in the Newspapers you are moved and inspired by what you read. It might be the story of someone who rises from the most challenging beginnings to achieve greatness. Or perhaps the story of a life that exhibited the most profound bravery and courage in conflict. Maybe a story of someone who has changed the course of history or public opinion, or challenged and defeated injustice in the face of widespread apathy, and so the list goes on.
Either way stories about others, especially those who are extraordinary cannot fail to spur us on to transcend our own limits and aspire to ever greater things.
In the Christian scriptures we have numerous stories like this. Stories of people who have exhibited courage, bravery, wisdom and faithfulness – sometimes in the face of severe danger or threat. Some of these individual’s stories receive long and detailed narration, some nothing more than a cursory mention.
Beginning in January we are going to spend six weeks examining six individuals and their stories.
Each of the six people is mentioned in the list of ‘Heroes of Faith’ in Hebrews chapter 11. Each of them is praised by the preacher for holding fast to their faith for different reasons and in different situations.
Extraordinary yet ordinary…
In many respects, like those whose obituaries appear in the Newspapers, each of these people is in some way extraordinary, and yet at the same time they are entirely ordinary like you and i.
It is easy as we read such stories, to cast the people we encounter in scripture as heroes in a movie. We represent them as perfect, untouchable, out of reach of mere mortals, infallible, beyond critique and immune to failure. They cease to be ordinary people like you and I and become projections of our own desires, from 3D people, to 2D images.
To do so is to entirely miss the point. It is precisely because these people are like you and I, fallible, prone to failure, within reach, that they can speak to us. There is no point trying to emulate someone who is unable to share in the reality of our existence and who is totally ‘other’ – someone with no understanding of the failure and compromise that marks our lives.
As we go through this series its vital that we don’t cast these people as 2D images or projections – idealized and stripped of their humanity.
The people who we look to to spur us on in our faith are like us, and so they can speak to us, encourage us, and spur us on in the journey of faith.
Different people for different people
As we work through the next six weeks it’s inevitable that some of the stories will speak to you in profound and deep ways, and some will be of very little relevance or interest. That’s quite alright, different people speak to different people.
I hope that as we work through these stories we’ll be encouraged and challenged by the people that we meet. They may be old friends, people that we know well, in which case I hope we discover something new about them. They may be new friends, we’ll see.
Through the series the preachers will make every effort to avoid the 2D idealised ‘precious moments’ presentation of these people and instead engage in the gritty and uncomfortable parts as well as the nice bits.
Jan 6th: Noah. Genesis chapters 6,7,8,9
Jan 13th: Rahab. Joshua chapter 2, 6:22-25, Matt 1:5
Jan 20th: Gideon. Judges chapters 6, 7, 8
Jan 27th: Samson. Judges 13,14,15,16
Feb 3rd: David. 1 Samuel 16 - 1Kings 2
Feb 10th: Samuel. 1Samuel 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10,11,12,13,15,16