God's Heroes Have Courage
I don’t know if you have seen the new documentary out on Fred Rogers. I highly recommend this documentary called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” Fred Rogers was an ordained Minister of the Presbyterian Church. His pulpit was not your normal pulpit. It was the television and his congregation was children. He believed that children’s feelings were just as important and deep as adults’ feelings. Fred took great risks. He would talk to children about difficult topics. He didn’t sugar coat things but talked to the children on their level. He took an entire week talking about death. He took an entire week talking about divorce. There was one clip shown in the movie that showed Daniel, the tiger puppet, talking with Lady Fairchild about assassination. This was when Bobby Kennedy was shot. Fred had this amazing way of taking these difficult topics and sharing them with children in a very simple way.
He also was a peacemaker. When the United States was facing racial tensions between the white people and the African American people, Martin Luther King Jr. had just been shot and people were taking bleach and pouring it in the public pools so the African American people would get out and leave. Fred Rogers introduced a new character to the neighborhood. His name was Officer Clemmons. One day when Officer Clemmons came to visit, Fred was soaking his feet in a kiddy pool in the backyard and invited Officer Clemmons to soak his feet right next to him. This sent a message of unity and peaceful community despite your skin color.
Today in our scripture from 1 Samuel, Abigail is our main character. She is a risk taker. She is a peacemaker. She is a messenger from God. And through it all, she has amazing courage. I will be honest. I did not know very much about Abigail until she was found in our Vacation Bible School Hero Central curriculum this summer. Abigail is quite a character and it is no wonder why we found her labeled as one of God’s Heroes.
When she finds out that her evil husband, Nabal has enraged David and his men by refusing to share his food with them. She sets out to set the record straight. It is clear that she goes without her husband knowing it. She takes a huge risk by going against her husband. This man is rich and I am sure commands a lot of power. She also has no idea how David will receive her. She assumes that he is out for blood and plans to kill her husband, his men and possibly her.
So, she goes to her servants and asked that they pack up a great feast of dressed sheep to cook, fine wine, raisin and fig cakes and fresh baked bread. This huge amount of food is gathered and put on donkeys. Abigail, herself, could have taken a black stallion or a charging white horse but instead chooses to meet David on ahumble donkey. This must have sent a message of humility when she came toward David. She comes with a gift of a peace offering. Then, she takes the blame for Nabal’s actions.
She says, “Please forgive me. Forget what Nabal did. He was foolish. I will take the blame for what he did.” Usually, we think of courage as being strong enough to stand up for ourselves and fight for what is right. When do we consider having courage to take the blame for someone else’s faults? It is totally against our human nature isn’t it?
Last week, Tom shared in his sermon on vulnerability that we spend so much time blaming each other. It is all over social media where this person is blaming this person and that person is blaming that person. We don’t have the courage to be vulnerable and take responsibility for our own actions.
Abigail takes it one step further and is willing to take the hit for what Nabal did and seek forgiveness. Scripture tells us that she was beautiful and intelligent. It is no doubt that David is captivated by Abigail’s beauty but it is her wisdom that opens up his heart to listen to her request. She tells him that he should not harm Nabal because of what he did. He will be the future prince of Israel and he does not want this violent act to be held against him. Abigail sends the message from God that David should not act out with anger but trust God that there will be justice. David will soon be the master of God’s kingdom and God will stand by his side.
David is grateful to Abigail for helping him see that he should not repay evil with evil but instead to repay evil with good. David realizes that God has saved him from making a big mistake with the help of Abigail. He responds with a blessing. Listen now to his blessing.
“Blessed be God, the God of Israel. He sent you to meet me! And blessed be your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and taking charge of looking out for me. A close call! As God lives, the God of Israel who kept me from hurting you, if you had not come as quickly as you did, stopping me in my tracks, by morning there would have been nothing left of Nabal but dead meat.”
Our Vacation Bible School theme scripture for the week was “Do good – Seek peace – And go after it!” Abigail had great courage to seek out peace. She didn’t shy away from it. She relied on God to give her the courage to go after what was good for others and herself.
During the week of VBS, we talked about heroes. We think of heroes having large muscles and people who have the power to leap tall buildings in a single bound or to fly to infinity and beyond. God’s heroes are everyday people like you and me. We are God’s heroes. God gives us the courage to do amazing things. What does that courage look like?
- Having the courage to go to someone and tell them that they are about to make a big mistake
- Having the courage to open up your heart and listen, being able to change your actions.
- Having the courage to repay evil with good.
- Having the courage to take a risk by standing up for something you believe God is calling you to do
- Having the courage to take the blame for someone else’s faults
- Having the courage to be a peacemaker by seeking peace and going after it.
Thanks be to God for the story of Abigail and her courage that shows us how to live out our faith in God. Amen.
Benediction for the end of the service – this is a body prayer so you will need to be standing. Clench your hands into a fist, Take your arms and cross them. Bend your body so that you are curled with your head bowed.
Gracious God sometimes we are all tied up with fear. We are facing difficult things in our lives. Help us to know that having courage is not the same as not being scared. Sometimes being scared is a completely appropriate way to feel! Gracious God grant us courage through your love and never failing presence. We open up our hands and bodies reaching them up to the sky. We imagine the loving hand of God holding us every minute, every second, and being there to fill our hearts with love, with hope, and with courage. Amen.