True Courage is Not Confined to the Battlefield

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by John Kirkwood

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This is pew #46, where Robert E. Lee used to sit with his daughters in Christ Church, Alexandria Virginia. It is just across the aisle from the pew where George Washington had often sat. One day, after the war had ended, General Lee would rise from this pew and demonstrate the strength of true grace. It was a relatively small church. The parishioners knew each other quite well. Or did they?

Families had helped build each other’s houses. Barn raisings had been a common, even social event. Their children had courted each other, some having gone on to marriage. They had stood together and cried together at the gravesides of countless loved ones over the past five years. They had gone through a most traumatic period as a community. Now it was time for the healing to begin. Together in church one day, they would be challenged, and together, most would fail.

Such is the story of human history, and sadly, of the Body of Christ known to the world as “the Church.” Sometimes, there is but one man who has the courage of his convictions and that sole man’s faithfulness in the heat of battle may melt the hard-hearted and inspire the lesser men around him.

One sunny day in a little Virginian church, parishioners gathered to observe what is known in much of Christendom as The Lord’s Supper – the Eucharist. As the people were about to keep the ritual, a young man – a young, “black man” entered from the back and approached the podium to, himself, partake.

There was a noticeable gasp, an uncomfortable, drawn out silence and even the parson seemed at a loss for this was no mere mistake, this was an outright offense. Did this man know not of his station in life? What insolence! He had his own place of worship – a “black” assembly, but this was “ours!” Something had to be done! Just when it seemed that chaos might break out, a distinguished elderly man arose from a middle pew.

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