I currently am preaching a sermon series called “Faith & Film.” Yesterday, we used “Spider-Man” as the modern lesson, and last week we used “Wonder Woman.” So, yesterday, I talked about what it means to be a superhero.
The assigned Gospel lesson was Peter walking on the water toward Jesus. He sank, of course, and had to be rescued when the wind and waves caused his faith to be replaced by fear. That seems a perfect illustration of why we are so seldom heroes, let alone superheroes. We empower our fears rather than sustain our focused faith.
One of the things I love about Spider-Man is that Peter Parker is entirely human. He jumps off buildings, which might terrify most of us, but he also has all the angst and teenage insecurity that anyone else might have. There are times when he is neither a good Peter Parker, nor a good Spider-Man.
So, too, there are times we aren’t very good humans, let alone heroes. Our insecurities and inhibitions cause us to empower our fears rather than our faith. Fear and faith both are real powers within us, and, with each choice we make, we cast the deciding vote for which will rule our behavior.
In light of the tragedies in Charlottesville on Saturday, like, I hope, most pastors, I challenged my congregation to take a more heroic stand against racism, white nationalism, the Alt-right, and the prejudice and violence they espouse against people of color, immigrants, Jews, and women. Unlike some congregations who might have resented “bringing politics into the church,” my congregation gave my words an extended ovation. Now I wonder if they will give them a genuine application.
Oh, the people of Virginia-Highland Church would have followed me right out the front door and into the streets yesterday morning. The question is if they will have the courage to confront their co-workers, their family, and their friends who think that “many sides” are the problem.
That is the attitude of an immoral coward. Racism and bigotry are demonic and must be fought in every way possible. This is not negotiable for people of faith. We must summon all our courage and say, “Enough!” and fearlessly confront this social evil and drive it from the temple of our communal lives. It is the only way to build the Beloved Community, and it is past time to get out of the boat and confront the wind and waves, even if we get a little wet.
Rev. Michael Piazza