Be Bold

This contemplation is also available as an audio recording.

INTRODUCTION

Last week I wrote/spoke about community and the gradual coming together that will begin to happen as lockdown eases further and our church spaces begin to open up for worship. Again, how this happens may well vary from one church to another reflecting local circumstances, constraints and realities.

However, I am aware in the background of this process of relaxation of an invitation to BE BOLD as we look at the future. This seems to be true in my work where the mantra is to Build Back Better from Covid-19 but in a context which will require some bold or, put another way, tough decisions. It also lingers at the edge of any thinking about what the opportunities are for us as a church too. Coming back together could we bold enough to do some things differently if the Holy Spirit were to guide us to?

In thinking about BOLDNESS, I am not saying that any decisions have been taken in my church about how we will come together and whether there will be some changes. I am just wondering aloud about being prepared to follow where the Holy Spirit would lead and what it might take to do so.

Boldness, if you look carefully at the book of Acts, is a quality that the apostles and early disciples displayed as they spoke about Jesus and continued to do so as they faced increasing opposition. Acts 4: 1-31 is a long passage but worth reading in full, if you have time, as it describes how John and Peter were arrested at the instigation of the priests, the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees and then brought before the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law including the high priest for questioning. They were ultimately released but not without being threatened if they were to continue to speak and teach in the name of Jesus.

Peter and John did not step back in fear. We are told they were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the truth they knew about Jesus. This courage did not go unnoticed nor did the fact that they were unschooled and ordinary men. In the face of opposition, Peter and John’s response was to pray as follows:

 

ACTS 4: 29 -31

29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

 

Peter and John were bold and spoke boldly not in their own strength but in the power of the Holy Spirit.

BOLDNESS for the sake of boldness does not seem to me very interesting. However, boldness as an expression of a life that is rooted in the action and intent of the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, well that is a courage I would love to have because it would mean that Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3: 14 to 21 was finding fulfilment in some measure in my life -

 

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

CENTRING EXERCISE

The centring exercise that follows is one that I have shared before (see the Resilience contemplation material) but which fits well again for this theme.

Begin by sitting comfortably but in a way that encourages you to be alert - back straight, feet planted firmly on the ground, arms relaxed, hands settled on your lap. Focus on your breathing for a time. Breathe deeply in and breathe deeply out. Allow each breath to settle you more fully in this moment and in this place.

Now, I invite you to imagine a tree, to picture its trunk, solid and settled upon the earth, a strong and firm base which reaches out through its roots into the ground. It is stable. It is anchored by the many lateral roots and shoots that not only stretch out around it but cut deep into the earth.

A central tap root goes deeper than all the others, drilling down, down, down into the ground, to find water and sustenance as well as stability and strength.

Above ground the trunk rises up until it bifurcates, creating a heart from which other growth can come as branches shape the structure of a canopy overhead. Picture this tree standing firm and with all boldness in its landscape.

I invite you now to stand if you are able and, like a tree, to stand tall; to imagine yourself rooted and held in the earth of God’s love for you; to imagine yourself refreshed and strengthened by the deep waters of God’s care and provision for you. If you are willing to, reach upwards and outwards with your arms and hear these words of the Psalmist in Psalm 27 verses 13 and 14

I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord,

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.

 

CONTEMPLATION

The invitation is to draw the outline of a tree and, as you do so, to reflect upon the word, BOLD. You might like to add colour to your tree, foliage and fruit; the invitation is to make your tree bold.

Then draw a root system for the tree and reflect upon your own roots. In what are you rooted? How deep and wide do the roots need to go to support your bold tree in all weathers, circumstances and conditions?

Add the essential life-giving water to your picture that your tree needs. The water that in the words of Psalm 1 means it yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither.

 

GOING DEEPER

The invitation is to meditate on these verses from Ephesians 3: 17b - 21

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

PRAYER

Take some time to consider what your reflections have revealed for you; how the Holy Spirit may be stirring in you. Bring this response to God in a further time of prayer – asking for what grace you may need, giving thanks for what you may have received.

 

© Sarah Dickinson