A friend who visited England years ago told me that she was impressed with billboards that read: TAKE COURAGE. She assumed it might have related to The War and was disappointed when she learned that COURAGE is a beer. I have been reflecting lately on those words: TAKE COURAGE and what they entail.
Several coincidences have happened with such regularity, lately, that I have an uncomfortable feeling someone is trying to tell me something. I used to believe in coincidences until I heard of God Incidences and it seemed to me that God might actually meddle in my life, until another word, Synchronicity, popped up. This fits better with my theology that everything in Creation is linked together by God’s DNA. If so, it makes sense that obscure events do relate.
Recently I wondered to my son-in-law about the meaning of a sign painted on a building years ago in downtown Denver: Zeitgeist. I know in German it translates as “time” and “ghost”. While preparing for a book group discussion I came across the word: cosmovision. The book’s discussion is saying that the real origins of Christianity depended on information available to and the common vision of an individual community. My phone chirps. Zeitgeist: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
The singing group in our community is working on a new song: You Only Hurt the One You Love. The final lines: “So, if I broke your heart last night, it’s because I love you most all.” The love song had been running constantly in my mind as I was sorting through a box of old photos. A postcard startled me. I recall that we had heard that, in a church in a little town in Germany, Adolph Hitler was depicted in a stained-glass window. We found the Church of St Peter and St Paul. After searching we found a panel made up of small sections devoted to stories of Jesus’ life. One section showed Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert. There was Satan resembling A.H.
The Roman Catholic Church of St Peter and St Paul was built in Weil de Stadt, a town of 19,000 people, on an old Roman Church ruin, in the 1400s. Restored several times, minor redecoration occurred in 1938-1940. The town has a proud rich history of scientists and mathematicians and of having withstood the Reformation and remained Roman Catholic. I am in awe of a community that took courage, while Hitler was in power, and took a stand; awed by the courage that installing that little section of glass had taken.
Suddenly the song in my head came to a screeching halt. Those lovely words began to sound like the ones I have heard abusers say to those they have abused. “I did it because I love you.” I wonder about the songs many of us grew up singing, like “You Belong to Me”. Songs that define another person as a possession. There is much deeply ingrained in our collective memories that feeds and validates our prejudices. Not so healthy ideas, repeated often enough, have made much of what is wrong seem normal.
Can I explain how all these unrelated issues have fallen into place this week? Can a postcard, a book review, a song, a text, and two words be related? Can they have a message? Coincidence? No. Synchronicity? Aha! The reflection continues. What is the cosmovision of our communities? What is the zeitgeist, the defining mood of who we are? Are we, who call ourselves followers of Christ, able to step back, take an honest assessment of who we are and what we have become? Are we prepared to Take Courage; speak out against evil; stand strong, do what Jesus would expect us to do? Good people will see a need and act. Good people will take a stand. Will Take Courage.
The Savior replied: Sin as such does not exist. You only bring it into manifestation when you act in ways that are adulterous in nature. Gospel of Mary Magdalene