Batkid and the People of God
I am lucky to live in the Bay Area. And never have I felt luckier than the day Batkid came to town (if you know nothing of Batkid, please read this)
When the story leaked that the Make-A-Wish Foundation planned to transform San Francisco into Gotham City so that Miles, a 5 year old who beat leukemia, could fulfill his dream to be Batman, I knew I wanted to be there. And so did about 10,000 other people. The event got so much press, even becoming national news, that all who were planning on showing up were asked to RSVP so they could have some semblance of control. My wife and I volunteered to be members of the crowd welcoming Batkid to City Hall where he would receive the keys to the city.
When my wife and I got into San Fran… ahem…. Gotham City, it was immediately apparent that something was going on. There was an electricity in the city, far above its normal voltage. Batman paraphernalia was everywhere – some companies had even created their own Batkid T-shirts, which were quickly getting snatched up. A smattering of eager individuals had even made their own signs thanking Batkid for saving our town. Upon seeing the love, care and commitment others had dedicated to celebrating Batkid, my wife and I felt inadequate carrying nothing. And yet, we were glad to be members of the crowd.
We arrived at City Hall about 45 minutes before Batkid was scheduled to arrive, meeting some friends who had saved a space in the crowd. We were lucky enough to be 50-60 feet from the stage, with a perfect view of the podium and Batkid’s designated seat. A spirit of lively anticipation filled the crowd, almost as if we were about to hear the President deliver the inaugural address. We were ready and willing to help fulfill a child’s dream, a dream we had all entertained in various capacities.
In that crowd, as it grew from 1,000 to between 5,000 and 7,000, I realized that my contribution to this experience was pretty insignificant. There would have been fanfare whether I were there or not. My presence neither substantially added to or detracted from the celebration. I was a member of the crowd, but it didn’t need me. That day wasn’t about me or my wife or my friends showing up – it was about a group of people, representing the greater Bay Area, congratulating Batkid on a job well done. And I was happy to be there.
Often, when I hear people speak of passing from this life into heaven, mention is made of hearing God speak the phrase, “well done, good and faithful servant.” I’ve always loved that phrase – to think of hearing God speak those words over me gives me a shudder of excitement. And yet, my thoughts whilst standing on the lawn in front of city hall, caused me to rethink my conception of entering into heaven. Maybe God wouldn’t say those words just to me, but would speak them over the people of God? Maybe it isn’t I who is the “good and faithful servant,” but rather the Church?
I find joy in imagining God reciting those simple words over his people as they enter into the great banquet hall. When it’s about the people of God being good and faithful, I discover that my failures and transgressions do not thwart the Church’s movement in the world. I find that those few moments when I am faithful or open to God’s good guiding, it is not just my faithfulness, but it is also God’s people. When my wife is faithful to God, it’s not just her faithfulness, it’s also, in some strange way, my faithfulness, and ultimately God’s. As united members of Christ’s body, our faithfulness gets swept up into the grander narrative of God’s work in his people and the world. Like a voice lost within, but adding to a grand choir, or a single piece of glass within the larger mosaic, our acts of faithfulness are important, but pale in comparison to the whole. I like the idea that I can’t ultimately claim my faithfulness as my own. It belongs to God and His people. And while God’s people don’t necessarily need me, I’m happy to be included in the mix.
I guess Batkid unintentionally taught me a lesson. Rather than being lonely and lost in the crowd, there is solace in knowing that something far greater happens when we gather and that my meager voice is always welcome in the cacophony of praise.