Popular culture is replete with stories of superheroes. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America and so on have been part of the American landscape for decades. Just in recent years, there have been dozens of super hero movies, but this tradition dates back to the silent film era, long before the magic of computer-generated graphics.
Scripture contains one story after another of superheroes – David, Rachel, Ruth, Moses, Jehoshaphat (see article on page 8) to name a few – who preceded Christ, the ultimate superhero. The New Testament also includes the deeds of other superheroes – Mary, the Disciples, Mary Magdalene, and Paul.
We marvel at contemporary real-life heroes who perform seemingly miraculous deeds. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who piloted his US Airways jet into the Hudson River in 2009 after striking a flock of geese, saving hundreds of lives comes to mind. As do the countless “everyday miracles” of Mother Teresa, performed for decades in Calcutta. Other superheroes rescue children from harm, thwart would-be terrorists, stamp out fires or perform life-saving surgeries. To followers of a certain Midwest pro-sports franchise, the manager of their team was a superhero, engineering three wins in a row last October and thus ending a 108-year championship drought.
Aside from Jesus, from what we know of their backgrounds, most or all “superheroes” from long ago, comic books and modern times share something in common – “common-ness.” That is, they were ordinary folks and seemed unlikely to become heroes. Oskar Schindler was a debt-ridden alcoholic when he purchased the munitions factory that would allow him to protect over 1,200 Jews from near-certain death at the hands of the Nazis. Malala Yousafzai was born into a middle-class Muslim family in Pakistan; hardly the ideal platform for an education advocate who would survive a murder attempt and become the youngest Nobel laureate ever. Superman was just an ordinary baby on Krypton and only became “super” when he emigrated to Earth where his everyday skills seemed extraordinary among his adopted human contemporaries. Peter Parker was a lonely high school science geek until he was bitten by a radioactive spider and became Spider-Man. David was as unlikely a prospect for superhero status as anyone. Only after considering and dismissing all of his older brothers did the Lord finally tap the young shepherd, David. Family and locals alike dismissed his suitability for much responsibility at all, let alone to lead a great nation. Moses, when chosen by God to lead the Israelites, threw up one objection after another, ‘I’m not brave,” “I’m not a good speaker. Why would anyone listen to me?” Esther, as a Jew, seemed an unlikely candidate to even get access to King Xerxes, let alone to successfully persuade him to ensure Hebrew rights in Persia and eventually become his bride.
So, what does super heroism (or even just plain ordinary heroism) look like at Westminster? I think it looks like the Sanctuary on Sunday morning. And Faith Formation activities on Wednesday evening. And Financial Peace University classes and choir rehearsal and confirmation class and The Commons kitchen during a funeral luncheon and Deacons visiting shut-ins and pastors’ morning hospital calls and a youth mission in El Salvador and, and, and…… There is so much going on at Westminster and via outreach that it is easy to lose track of all the Lord’s work being carried out. And all done by people who can’t fly, part the Red Sea or even drive a car in some cases.
OK, then how does stewardship relate to superheroes? Simple: stewardship makes the good works possible. Stewardship, after all, is taking care of that with which God has blessed us. This includes ensuring the financial stability of our church. Pick your metaphor – your prayerfully-considered pledge fuels the engine, feeds the body, stokes the flame, nourishes the seed, or pushes the boat from the riverbank and into the flow. As Christopher Holway points out, “(a)s faithful stewards of God’s holy House, we have a sacred obligation and responsibility ……. to humbly and joyfully offer our time, our talents, and our resources back to God in the management and care of that which He has given to us.” Stewardship includes whatever it takes to be stewards. And while cookies, hymns and crisply folded bulletins each have an essential role in life at Westminster, none are accepted as payment by the utility companies, nor can Westminster staff spend them on food to feed their families. So it is good to keep in mind Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” In other words, we can’t take any of our toys (or dollars) to Heaven, nor will we ultimately be judged on the basis of our wealth, except in how we choose to spend it. With this in mind, it makes sense to do everything we can financially to ensure that the good works of ongoing ministries being done here on a daily basis have all the support needed to continue and grow.
The 2018 Stewardship Campaign is upon us. Will your response be “super?” Westminster superheroes do all that they can with the gifts they have been given. This includes each individual and family’s “power” to give time, talent and treasure. Granted, our resources and capacity for each is never equal and surely varies as we go through the different stages of life. But by giving as generously as you possibly can, you are supporting your chosen faith community in its ministry to members, neighbors and the world at large. If you are doing so, you meet all qualifications, rights and responsibilities as a member of the “Legion of Westminster Superheroes.” Thank you, and carry on – there’s no doubt someone in need will benefit from your good works.