This week the world lost Stan Lee. He started as a comic book writer and was the creator of a universe of superheroes now called the Marvel universe. Blockbuster movies, millions of comic books sold—there is little doubt about the regard in which our culture holds superheroes. They are titans, or even gods, and their exploits spark debates among children of all ages. My favorite debates involve the very difficult work of deciding which super power I would want if I could have only one. Would it be super strength, teleportation, flying, telekinesis, mindreading, or one of the other powers from among the plethora in the superhero world?
But among all these options, a power that I don’t think I ever considered was the power to be in more than one place at once. I’m not sure that it is even one of the powers possessed by any of the major superheroes in the Marvel universe Lee created. And though I didn’t ever consider this a superpower that would be useful in conquering enemies or protecting the world, yesterday I realized how central it really is to doing just that.
As many of you know, yesterday our community took part in both the Nu’uanu Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration and the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Our inspiring artists in The Spirits and our inspiring leader Marie Anne represented our community in an evening decades in the making, when so many communities united to support one another and the work of Bluewater Mission’s Justice Ministry, which actively and effectively provides safety and protection to exploited children. And only a few miles away, a mighty contingent of our community gathered to bear witness to the ways far too many lives of our transgender siblings ended far too soon, as we took part in remembering the lives in the transgender community that were lost this year, and learning ways to support and uplift all the members of our human family.
It means something to me, and it should mean something to you, that on the same night, in the same city, at the same time, the same church was in two places at once. In one place, we were one of many churches and faith communities, part of the beautiful faith tapestry woven and warming the Nu’uanu Valley for decades. And in the other place, we were the only local church with a visible presence, bringing love and a message of hope to all. Two places at once.
Many people ask me “what is the beloved community we talk about so much?” There is a technical answer about how that term was coined, but the real answer, the deep answer, is very much in the events of last night. It is when human people begin to do superhuman things. It is when mild mannered individuals change into heroes by joining their forces with their accomplices. It is when we show up, when we don’t just tell people we love them, when we show people we love them, in more than one place, at once. Thank you for yesterday. Thank you for being my heroes, friends.
Many blessings of gratitude in this season.
Rev. T. J.