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Batman and Jesus

batman-costume-pattern-682x1024On the way out of the gym one day I walked by Batman. He was walking in; I was walking out. I knew it was him because of his mask and cape. He was with his mom.

This particular batman was about 3. He had chubby cheeks, and seemed really excited about life that day, even though I’m pretty sure it was a normal day for him, including an hour spent in the rec center daycare while his mom went to Yoga. It wasn’t Halloween. It wasn’t even October. This was no problem for Batman. Any old Tuesday in August is as good a day as any to put your cape on and be a hero.

When do we stop self-identifying as heroes? When does that stop being okay? And what do we lose when we stop putting our capes on?

Jesus, the hero of the way-of-being-in-the-world that I subscribe to (Christianity), often instructed his followers to learn from children. In addition to how they trust, imagine, play, love, and ask questions, children remind us to self-identify as heroes. So thank you, Batman, for these reminders:

  1. I matter. My life has value. You don’t put on a cape if you don’t think this. Not only does it matter that I matter, but it matters that I know I matter, and it matters that I know this enough to announce it to the world. This is why heroes wear capes (Well, one of the reasons. They also look really good while flying).
  2. Everyone has a superpower. Actually, everyone probably has several, and the combination of powers each person has is unique. These powers are a gift, and they are meant to be used.
  3. The world needs me. This is what heroes really get. Thank goodness Bruce Wayne didn’t stay at that monastery in Tibet, and now shows up at the rec center. He does so because he knows he matters, and he knows he has a unique mix of super powers, and that he should use these powers for good.

But. (throat clear, pause for effect)

Jesus was a different kind of hero. He cut against the grain. He knew he mattered, was aware of his unique combination of superpowers, knew the world needed him and he was fine with being a hero on a very small scale. He was a Small Hero, not a big one (see what I did there?). He shared his way-of-being-in-the-world, but mostly with twelve low-brow friends. He taught, but didn’t try to get the biggest crowd. He healed, but did so with those who found him, with those who were proximate to him.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

– Mark 10.45

And he’s called me to follow him. He wants me to put on his cape.

He wants me to be a hero, to know that I matter, to use my powers because the world needs me. But I probably don’t get to save Gotham, and no one is going to make a pastor silhouette beacon to shine into the sky when I am needed. I get to be a hero by making my wife her favorite dinner (cheeseburgers) paired with her favorite zin (this one) when she’s had a hard day, by building my nine year old son a treehouse, by taking my 13 year old daughter out for Earl Grey and pumpkin bread on a particularly rough Monday morning, by writing blog entries (read by dozens!), by preaching (when another preacher is out of town), by brewing beer to hand out to my (adult) neighbors on Halloween, by serving on the board of my local homeless shelter, by reading good theology and trying to write the same, and by praying for those who are proximate to me. In doing all of these things I’m putting my cape on; I’m using the powers God has given me–I’m being a small hero, unafraid of obscurity, and trusting the scale of the results with the God of the universe.

 

I am a hero, and so are you. Put on your cape, because the world needs you.

 

 

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