Reflections: The Rev Elisabeth Cranfield of Methilhill and Denbeath Parish Church

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COURAGE is a quality we all admire.

We recognise the courage of lifeboat personnel and of firemen and women, and of others who risk their lives to rescue people.

And we admire the courage of people living or working in conflict zones, including doctors trying to treat people wounded in Syria, people from the armed forces and civilians struggling to protect their families from harm.

We also applaud the courage of people who show bravery during their serious illness and the courage of people who are willing to stand up for someone who is being bullied, or to draw attention to someone’s dangerous or inadequate work.

On a recent visit to Israel and Palestine, I noticed many examples of courageous people – these included workers at a reconciliation centre who were counselling traumatised children, young people challenging themselves to take part in courses which involved working alongside people from very different religious and political backgrounds, ecumenical accompaniers offering support to Palestinians in Hebron, and people who were trying to resist eviction orders while telling their story to anyone who would listen.

Wherever it is found, courage draws respect and encourages us to think about our own lives and ways we might increase our bravery.

At this time of year, Christians turn their thoughts to the last days before Jesus’ death and his journey to the cross.

With his enemies plotting to kill him and his own awareness of what lay before him, Jesus suffered real distress and anguish.

Butn whatever his fears, he showed enormous courage in facing up to his destiny.

One of the most revealing experiences was Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

On my recent visit to Israel, I found it very meaningful to spend time among ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane while reflecting on Jesus’ prayer: “My Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.’”

And, of course, soon after this prayer, Jesus allowed the soldiers to arrest him.

Why did Jesus allow himself to be taken away to the high priest’s house?

Because he knew his suffering was the central part of God’s plan to rescue people from sin and death. And he was absolutely determined to do what God wanted him to do.

Jesus’ courage made it possible for him to die for us.

As we thank God for the hope and forgiveness that Jesus’ death and resurrection have brought to us, let’s try to be a bit more like Jesus in showing courage.

And let’s ‘Think of what Jesus went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up.’ (Hebrews Chapter 12 verse 3).

Ms Cranfield writes in the East Fife Mail