1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.3 When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4 But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5 for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6 So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7 for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, NRSV
Getting dressed for church on a Sunday morning is a pretty consistent part of the LaBar family routine… but there was nothing “routine” about it this time. “Church is going to be a little bit different today,” I said to my children on this past Sunday morning. “Mommy is going to be talking to a camera. The people won’t be there in the sanctuary. There won’t be Sunday School.” “Because of the virus?” Ellie asked. “Yes, honey… because of the virus,” I replied. I have to do something, I thought. Something to make this day less strange. Something to make this day more fun. “You know what?” I said. “Because church is going to be different today, you can choose to wear anything you want. Anything at all.” And that’s how my daughter ended up going to church dressed like this:
That’s right: when given the choice to wear anything she wanted, Ellie chose to wear her Spider-Man Halloween costume. Ellie chose to be a superhero. Maybe she feels a little more powerful in her spidey suit. Or maybe she just really likes Spider-Man. Maybe it’s a little of both.
I shared Ellie’s photo with a few friends and family members, who were (as always) delighted by my little girl’s spark and spunk. I was delighted by their responses… but especially by this message from Miss Rosemary, one of Ellie’s Sunday School teachers:
Hi Ellie! Love love love your spidey outfit. You will be God’s superhero to knock out all the germs. I’ll miss seeing you and all our friends at Sunday School but when we get together again we will be soooooo happy to see each other. Have fun at home with Noah and Mom and Dad. See you soon my sweet little friend!Love, Miss Rosemary Ellie may well be God’s superhero to knock out the germs, but that day, Miss Rosemary was God’s superhero.
Her note of encouragement helped to knock out some of the anxiety my little girl was feeling that day. “Therefore encourage one another,” 1 Thessalonians reminds us, “and build up each other, as indeed you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11, NRSV). That’s the work of the church. That’s the work of the body of Christ. That’s the work of ordinary, everyday superheroes.
Not all superheroes wear capes or swoop through the air on webs, it turns out. Some superheroes… reach out with a phone call at just the right time. Some superheroes send a funny text or take the time to mail a hand-written note. Some superheroes reach out to pray for their loved ones, to pray with their loved ones. Some superheroes send encouraging emails to little girls whose lives have been turned upside down.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other,” dear church. Be superheroes to one another, superheroes for God. Do this super-heroic thing of being the church for one another, of finding new and creative ways to be the church for one another. Do this super-heroic thing of encouraging one another in this strange and unsettling season.
Remember, my friends:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
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