I don’t believe in Iron Man

this is pretty close to what I preached yesterday

I am no Iron Man. I’m not talking about being a triathalete who swims, bikes, and then runs 26.2 miles. no i’m talking about the mechanized superhero. I’m not him, and i don’t believe in him either. It’s not that I don’t think he’s are real, well iron man is a fictional character, but his movies and merchandise are very real. What we shouldn’t believe in isn’t a particular character like iron man or green lantern, captain America, or for the ladies out there, batgirl. The problem is with the whole myth of the superhero, the myth of these others who save the day.

So let’s look at this, you all have probably watched tv or read a comic book, and although the Man of Steel is in theaters now, Superman is not new, he is 80 years old, as he was born so to speak in 1933. These superhero characters are not new. So what do you need, what goes into, what are the characteristics of a superhero?

Cape, arch enemy…
Special power, some are born that way mutants, some are created through circumstances or freak accidents right? Now here’s maybe a more difficult question. Are they always happy, or content? You might think so, just because they are so powerful. But doesn’t that also become the source of their angst. Angst is just a fancy word for: apprehension, anxiety, or inner turmoil. Our more modern superhero stories often include a time of questioning, a time of psychological or spiritual upheaval.

Let us now compare these superhero and heroines (after all I grew up the bionic woman and Wonder Woman) with the prophet Elijah we heard about this morning, and if you’ve bone lucky enough to be here in worship for the last several weeks, we’ve been spending time with Elijah for about 4 weeks now.

What do we know about Elijah, and just so you know the first reading passages assigned for us by the Lectionary have been jumping around a bit in his story, but what do we know about this guy Elijah.

Called by God to be a prophet
King Ahab and Jezebel arch nemesis
Declares a drought
Revives a widow’s only son,
Has a showdown with the priests of this other god named Baal. That’s actually what happens right before our reading for today.

This part of the story was read 3 weeks ago, and it could be a great dramatic scene fit for any big screen Hollywood production. Elijah is standing in front of all these other priests of this other God, I can just hear him saying, there ain’t room for the two of us in this here promised land. And Elijah bests them, destroys them. You would have thought that such a miraculous display of power would mean Elijah would win. Roll the credits. the good guy would win, and the bad guys runaway scared. But no. This morning we heard how King Ahab runs and tells his queen Jezebel what happened, and like any evil villain she vows revenge. Well, Elijah wasn’t prepared for that; he didn’t think there’d be a sequel. He expected to win, to be paraded as a hero, but no instead his life is in danger. So he does what a lot of people do he flees. Now he’s retreating, as fast as his legs can carry him into the desert away from everybody.

Now again, if Hollywood were producing this story, as the prophet Elijah slips into the cave on the mountain, amid the dark, spider webs, and dust he’d find an object from space, a relic of a distant society, emanating a radiation that agonizingly turns him into some kind of mutant super man who can face down evil King Ahab, his armies, and most dramatically the queen of all evil Jezebel, her henchmen and minions. Or to make it a bit more humanistic, there in the dark cave he’d suddenly remember some great injustice, he’d get in touch with his inner core of strength and return to the battle with a renewed motivation to smite the evildoers, to right wrongs. That’s what it would look like on the big screen or in the comics, but the bible isn’t just another book of fiction and fantasy stories. This story, the story of Elijah, the story of our relationship with our God may be more real than many of us might feel comfortable.

Because, well were not a bunch of superheroes, at least I know I’m not, I’m not even a spiritual superhero. Elijah, you me, well we’re just regular people called by God to follow. And well regular people go through all sorts of things in life, sometimes everything is going well, and that’s great, but other times it’s not, and well sometimes it’s hard to see how, see in what ways what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Life can be too much, even without a diagnosis of depression, or anxiety, addictions, what some of us struggle with every day. I don’t know about you, but sometimes running away and hiding in a cave sounds like a really good idea to me.

We all, or a vast majority of us all go through periods of questioning, times of trial and doubt. Sometimes, we may think that because of this, well were somehow not a spiritual superheroes we imagine are out there, think we’re supposed to be, simply we’re not as good a Christian. That if only we were better, that our faith isn’t rock solid 100% of the time, that we are just deficient.

Easter 2

John 20:19–31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

“4 reals”
I like Thomas. I like Caravaggio’s image of Jesus and Thomas. To me it seems like Jesus is grabbing and guiding, pulling a hesitant Thomas into his wounded side. This isn’t an antiseptic and polite interaction. Touch makes things real; love isn’t real until it is touched and felt, skin to skin, my lips on my childrens’ cheeks and forehead, my husband’s arms around me, the tears of the grieving and troubled on my shoulder. This isn’t shameful; this is living through death. This is sacred.