Friday, December 29, 2006

Superman in Dunkin' Donuts

I'm one of a handful of local pastors who take turns writing a column called "Reflections" for the weekend edition of our paper, the Rome Sentinel. It's meant to be an inspirational, encouraging word and it usually appears in the first section. This is my latest piece, which will run next Saturday, January 6. On a personal note: I'm hoping that by posting it I will jump start my blogging for the new year.

**Note: The "strip steel" thing is an inside joke for Romans. One of our largest and most well-known industries in town is Rome Strip Steel. The chairman and his family are good friends of the Army.**

I’m pretty sure I saw Superman in Dunkin’ Donuts last week.

Of course, he was not wearing the traditional blue & red costume we all know and respect. Unlike the citizens of Metropolis, however, I was able to see through the “mild mannered reporter” set-up and recognize him for who he really is. He was tall - about my height of 6’ 4”, but much more muscular than me, though that probably goes without saying. His well-mannered tone with the employee who was taking his order demonstrated his salt-of-the-earth, appreciation-for-hard-work upbringing in the farmlands of rural Kansas. And although the Daily Sentinel bore no evidence of superhero goings on around town, I’m sure it was the Man of Steel (which makes me wonder - if his spaceship had landed in Rome all those years ago instead of Smallville, would his nickname have turned out to be “The Man of Strip Steel?”). It just goes to show - you never know when someone will show up in the unlikeliest of places.

The Bible confirms that God Himself has a penchant for showing up in the most unlikely of places. He spoke to Moses from within a bush that was on fire (Exodus 3) and met with three faithful friends inside the fire of a furnace (Daniel 3). The prophets encountered Him in dreams and visions, in the light of day and the dark of night. And of course we are wrapping up the formal celebration of His “magnum opus” of a stunning appearance: in a barn in Bethlehem, about 2,000 years ago - as a newborn human, no less.

Evidence of God’s most surprising appearances of all, however, may be found in Matthew’s gospel account of His final earthly address in human form to His followers - “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” It’s God’s deep desire to encounter us, but not merely as a caped crusader, swooping in “faster than a speeding bullet” to save the day, only to disappear until another emergency crops up. Instead, he yearns to show up and be “with us” - to intersect and connect with our lives in a meaningful relationship.

We may feel like our lives - our homes, our schools, our workplaces - are unlikely places for God to show up. And yet that’s where He wants to be - with us. Take a chance and invite Him along.