During our time of social distancing, I have had the opportunity to catch up on some reading I have not been able to. I have been alternating between cookbooks, audiobooks, and comics for pleasure reading. I am not an avid reader, so it is a big deal to read anything for pleasure. I enjoy the extra time T has to read coming. The way the art, design, and narrative come together in a signal form is fascinating to me. This week’s sermon prep had me think of iconic uses of people coming back to life. In the realms of comics, the use of resurrection or rebirth is not a new concept, as is the idea of time travel or a multiverse. The loss and return of our fictional heroes can help remind us why Jesus’ resurrection brings real hope to our lives.
Comic book narratives use many devices that allow creators to refresh our favorite heroes. Today we have the welcomed or dreaded reboot of some of our favorite heroes and their origin stories. Reboots are necessary because it allows new generations of readers and fans to connect with a hero initially created in the 1930s and ’40s. If you have watched any documentaries on comics, the characters have historical periods, times of redesign, or points of retirement. My favorite superhero is the Green Lantern, and one can easily see the transformation from the original character to the one drawn today. But in terms of the resurrection, the hero that stands out the most is Superman. He continues to be the quintessential model of what a hero is. Superman represents courage, strong morals, compassion to those who are weaker, justice, and extreme gentleness. Superman is the bedrock of the DC comic universe. So in the early ’90s, when DC released the news that they would be killing off this foundational character, it sent shockwaves across the far base. How could they kill a nearly immortal character loved for over fifty years then? Regardless of the intentions of the publisher, the impact of Superman’s death on the fan base was immense. The comic sold over five million copies and was a defining event in Superman’s history.
There are many facts and tidbits that I could explore about Superman #75, but the main thing that struck me was why did so many people care? One source pointed out that people who never read the comic went and bought this issue of Superman. I think it has a large part to do with the relationship that Superman built with the readers and the rest of the American public up until that point. Superman was steadfast, dependable, and kind. No matter the peril or challenge, one could hope that Superman and friends would win the day. Eventually, Superman would return to life, and he continues to go on countless adventures protecting the weak and innocent from the forces of evil.
Superman’s death and return got me to think about the reactions the disciples had to Jesus’ resurrection. Their fear and grief were real in the face of utter loss. Those following days in the upper room must have been substantial because of the relationship Jesus held with each of them. Jesus spent a significant amount of time with the disciples individually and collectively. When Jesus returns, it is a heartfelt joy, relief, and wonder for the disciples. Jesus meets Mary’s, the disciples’, and Thomas’ sorrow, doubt, and fears with the hope and fulfillment of the Word preached to them. (John 20:1-31) Returning from the dead is the cornerstone of our faith as Christians. The resurrection of Jesus shows the human story does not end with the finality of death, but continues with everlasting life in Jesus. With eternal life there is transformation and change that we experience through that free grace of God. The resurrection is essential to us because it is something that can’t be achieved by human will or ingenuity. The hope that we receive is the hope that there is something more than what normal life has to offer. Jesus teaches the disciples there is a purpose for every person and that God earnestly wishes to be apart of that life. It shows that God is willing to show us the mortal limitations of human existence but go beyond tomb, conquers death itself to bring new life.
We are all struggling with the reality of COVID-19. Even though my household is relatively young and healthy, Laurel and I are still worried about the wellbeing of those we serve at St. Andrew's and our loved ones. It is our continued prayer that you all stay safe, healthy, and take the necessary precautions to do so. I have been on a lot of zoom meetings lately, and it is always refreshing to fellowship with others. The weekly youth check-ins are one of my favorites because of the amount of laughter shared. We are blessed with a technology that reaches beyond sealed doors to connect us all. I know this moment in history will define generations to come. I pray that you have Christ at the center of your hearts and minds as we navigate this time. We may not have superpowers like some of our favorite comic book heroes, but we have the power of love, compassion, grace, and understanding that comes from Jesus. I encourage you to rest your hope on Jesus’ power and continue to grow in ways that lead to life eternal. I encourage you to use this prayer throughout the week to stay motivated.
A SERVANT’S PRAYER
God of All Creation, You have shown us the real meaning of life here on earth. It is through the immeasurable compassion, lavish generosity, and unselfish spirit of our Brother Savior, and Redeemer, the Jesus of History, that we have been awakened to our duty to be living demonstrations, yes, even exact replicas of his life on earth.
In our actions, we pray that others will see your unconditional love. In our loving, we pray for hearts that will guide our hands and feet toward those in need. In our going out and coming in, we pray for 20/20 vision in the Spirit, eyes to see those who have been left behind, battered, bruised, and broken. In our searches for success, we pray for true humility, obedient and contrite spirits, Conquering selfishness,
Doing nothing through conceit,
Counting others as more important than ourselves,
Serving as conduits of radical hope for the lonely, the last, the least, and the lost.
God of All Creation, this is the prayer of your servants,
In the Name of the Servant of servants,
The Jesus of Earth and Heaven ... Amen and Ashe’
Rev. Dr. Cynthia A Wilson © 2010 Free Indeed Productions
I hope to see you online Sunday at NINE45 or 11:15 for worship via Livestream. Blessings upon you, and I cannot wait to see you!