Rev. Dr. Michael Piazza

Join the Justice League

Last Sunday, we began a new sermon series with the hope that each of us might discover our superpower and become the superhero that God created us to be. In the weeks to come, we will discuss just how that might happen, but, first, I think there is a foundational lesson we must discover.

In an age of toxic individualism, the theme of the 2018 movie “Justice League” offers a vital insight:

You can’t save the world alone!

Angels at the Table

It is easy to love the people you know, but how do we welcome those we don’t know or, even more challenging, those who are unlike us, those who are, well, strange? That is why the writer of Hebrews said that, if we are going to welcome angels to our table, we are going to have to go “outside the camp.” It isn’t such bizarre expectation because that is where Jesus went and where he died.

Becoming a Fundamentalist

This week, I started writing what will be my 14th book. That impresses some people, but it just means that I have lots of opinions and like to share them. The working title is Confessions of a Pious Agnostic: A Memoir of Recovering from Fundamentalism.

The trouble is, because it is a memoir, I don’t know how it turns out, which pretty much describes the state we all are in. We barely know who we are, let alone who we are becoming.

The great good news is that we may have more control over who we become than we did over who we are. This writing project is forcing me to reflect on my growing up as a small-town, Southern fundamentalist, in a context in which that was, and to some extent still is, normative. We didn’t consider ourselves fundamentalists; we simply thought we were committed Christians. There was no point of comparison.

Living Substantially

The writer of the book of Hebrews understood there was a potent connection between hope and faith. They also understood that there was an important difference, so they wrote:

Faith is the substance of things hoped for;
the evidence of things not seen.

Or as the New International Bible translates it:

Faith is the confidence of what we hope will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Faith and hope. That connection is important because all too often what we really want is certainty that the things we hope for will come to pass. That isn’t faith; it is magical thinking.