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1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49
Psalm 9:9-20
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41


Fearless Girl, by sculptor Kristen Visbal, was first installed near the Charging Bull statue on Wall Street on March 7, 2017, one day before International Women’s Day.

The girl is a symbol of gender diversity in the workplace and is meant to symbolize a need to bring in more women. She has her hands on her hips and her chin up in a sign of strength, as she was meant to stand firm next to the Charging Bull. The creators behind her wanted her to be relatable.

But she quickly came to symbolize more than that. The image of this little girl, fearlessly facing something that could easily destroy her, captured public imagination. When Fearless Girl was originally placed near the Charging Bull, the intention was for her to be there for a week. But she was so beloved that her time there was quickly extended. First, it was extended to 30 days and then to a year.

While the general public was enamored with the Fearless Girl, there was at least one person who didn’t like her: Charging Bull’s sculptor Arturo Di Modica.

He argued with the city officials who were keeping her planted on Wall Street. According to The New York Times, the artist claimed the girl was “attacking” the bull and was an insult to his work.

Eventually, he forced her to be moved in November 2018 to a new home in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

After she was moved, a plaque was left behind by Charging Bull that read, “Fearless Girl is on the move to the New York Stock Exchange. Until she’s there, stand for her.” There were also footprints left behind where people could take photos where she once stood.

I can’t help but shudder at the the way life imitated art, the irony of the artist of the Wall Street bull bullying the fearless girl out of his way because she somehow threatened him. In every way, the artist proves the whole point. Fearless Girl inspires so many precisely because charging bull is such a menace, and very few would be brave enough to stand against it. Everyone loves seeing David stand up to Goliath.

But if we look around, it can seem like this possibility only exists in art and in stories. In our headlines, we don’t seem to see any Davids slaying any Goliaths. It feels like all we see are Goliaths, keeping their knees on David’s neck.

There’s been a lot in the news lately about what some victories for the Goliath of our time. White Christian nationalism is securing victory in places of power, from the judiciary to the legislature. In a month when we commemorate both the freedom of enslaved Africans and the hard-won progress of queer folks, we see their rights, their history, their personhood being denied more and more. When powers and principalities create and enforce policies that disrespect the dignity of every human being — that violate our country’s founding principles that all people are created equal and deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – as if they are less deserving of basic human decency, less deserving of being treated as the image of God that they are – those powers and principalities must be named for the evil and corrupt powers that they are. They are the storm that is rocking the boat of our society, and frightened people inside are begging, as the disciples did with Jesus, “save us! Do you not care that we are perishing?”

When the disciples saw Jesus calmly sleeping in the boat as the storms were raging around them, they were upset. They asked, How can you sleep, how can you sit idly by, while our very lives are being threatened? Aren’t you the one with the power to do something about this storm? Their voices echo the voices of centuries of enslaved Africans, ripped from their families and brutally treated; the voices of people of color today who are being racially profiled, assaulted, and killed; the voices of trans folks crying out for basic health care and personal dignity. All of God’s beloved children who have cried out to Jesus to save them – both yesterday and today – are waiting for a response from those who have the power to say to the storm, “Peace, be still.”

And to that, our Scriptures say:

This storm might seem big, but fear not.

This goliath might seem mighty, but I’ve got a slingshot.

Boy, do we need these stories right now. So much feels hopeless, impossible, overwhelming.

War, genocide, unjust and unethical policies being signed into law, unemployment, cancer diagnoses, infertility, homelessness, food insecurity. There are many goliaths swirling around us. Boy, do we need stories where one person with a slingshot can set things right again.

But these stories about more than just “God is more powerful than anything else”

They’re about the character of the one who conquers the goliath, who calms the storm.

Remember that David was almost dismissed as a potential king of Israel because of his ruddy appearance. But he was found worthy because God looks past the outward appearance and looks at the heart. 

And Jesus – notice the question the disciples ask. “who is this that even the wind and sea obey him?” – it’s about who he is, more than the power to conquer the storm.

These sorts of stories are so satisfying to us because at some point in our lives, we have all related to them. But what these stories tell us is that our victory over the impossible has everything to do with our hearts. Our character. Who we are. 

And We are Jesus’ body in the world. I would still like to believe that we have the power, if we work together, to break down the systems that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God. The oppression and abuse which thrive in those systems cannot thrive in the face of the true gospel. The body of Christ doesn’t have to look goliath and imposing. It can be as small as a fearless girl standing up to a raging bull, with character and faith and perseverance that wind and sea cannot drown. We must ask, not only what power do we have, but who are we, when we face goliath? Who are we?

The Fearless Girl is still standing in front of the NYSE, though her presence still relies on a temporary permit, and the statue’s future is not permanently decided. There are still goliath powers that want her gone. But she has persevered, not because because of what she is but what she stands for. It is not her beauty, but her character, that has captured public imagination. Charging Bull might have bullied her away from his presence, but no matter which goliath she faces, she remains beloved, a symbol of dogged, simple determination, almost unaware of her small stature in the face of a charging bull or an ominous columned capitalism machine, thrumming with the heartbeat of greed and gain at all cost. Perhaps those of us who know better would give up the fight, but she still hasn’t. And perhaps if we lean in a little closer, we can hear her whisper to us: “Why are you afraid?”

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