"The Reason for his Courage"

Dear Friends,

This past week I have noticed that subtle change in sunlight that presages the end of summer. With the prospect of fall discipline approaching, I am reminded it takes a certain amount of courage to get out of bed in the morning.

It can indeed be hard to trust the promise of freedom offered in the Christian life when we feel faced by insurmountable demands of our busy and often complicated lives. It can be difficult to find our way through the maze of demands on our time and resources. Yet it is precisely when we trust the freedom offered in Christ that we become alive and less encumbered by the things that tie us down.

Cyprian of Carthage, a third century African bishop who was beheaded during Christian persecution, is a good example of someone who learned to trust this freedom one can only find in God. Having converted to Christianity in 246 A.D., it took only two years for him to be appointed bishop – and only ten more before his life ended under the Emperor Valerian.

A lot happened in those ten years. The first time he was threatened by Christian persecution, he went into hiding, justifying his stance by saying he could direct his church by letter. This experience of his own weakness gave him the insight, once he eventually returned to his people, to advocate for those who had fallen short under pressure. And nine years later when persecution revisited Carthage, he gave up his life with his flock.

In the intervening years, he wrote works of great spiritual beauty, intelligence, and wisdom. Perhaps he had experienced firsthand the forgiveness of a gracious God encountering a fearful and very human heart in his bishop. Whatever the explanation, he became a person to be reckoned with. He loved his God, and God was the reason for his courage. He had learned to trust the power that loves each of us more dearly than life itself.

In these last days of true summer, let us keep Cyprian of Carthage's story in mind. If God could transform Cyprian’s feeble and mistrustful heart, we can be certain God can transform ours to accomplish whatever good is needed. We can become the people enlivened by the spirit of love and joy offered in the gospel. We, like Cyprian, can trust the power that loves us more dearly than life itself.

We simply must be willing.


The Rev. Susan N. Eaves, Interim Rector
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