On Friday, I teamed up with costuming bro Tim to be Batman up in Rockford, IL. Tim was Superman, and as all comic afficionadoes know, they appeared for years in World's Finest. DC's two greatest heroes in one book.
What united them was their fight for justice for the oppressed, both had rather noble backgrounds (Bruce Wayne's dad was a physician and Kal-El's was a chief scientist of Krypton), both were orphans and both were pretty much the very best they could be.
So what were we doing at a Salvation Army Toy Drive at a car dealership in Rockford, IL?
Well, to give a thrill to the kids of course. A lot of students came in busloads to bring presents for kids who had none and to sing Christmas songs for all the volunteers. But for me, the greater thrill was to help the Salvation Army, one of the most respected, evangelical Christian non-profits in the world.
They had their uniforms on too. They even have ranks, if you did not know.
Some even have capes.
And brothers and sisters, they do this year round. In my mind - and in Christ's kingdom - they are probably the closest to real-life superheroes.
That's because they constantly work in the worst areas of the world, where disaster strikes. They are unashamedly Christ-followers and give the Gospel even as they give food and blankets and shelter to the damaged, the lost, the least of the world. [Side note: during the fiasco of aid that followed Hurricane Katrina, this organization stood out as one of the most efficient, most organized, and most beneficial (second only to the Red Cross in monetary donations). (read gov't assessment here, near bottom of the page).]
It was a privilege to be there serving in a minor capacity next to them. In fact, they had everything so well handled, I had almost nothing to do - so Supes (Tim) and I decided to be doormen.
THAT was fun! :D [ Imagined scene on bus: "O.K. we're here kids, lets get the toys inside and... WHO IN THE WORLD??!" "OMG - that's Superman!"]
I also had to introduce myself to the elder lady in charge and let her know I was a jail minister, just to alleviate any 'concerns' about a middle-aged man dressed up in tights and a latex cowl prowling about. (These guys are a bit conservative, understandably.)
She took it in stride and shared it with her colleagues. "He's also a minister!" she said.
They nodded politely and smiled. (You know, I felt at that moment like any kid would who was dressed up like a fireman standing next to a veteran of 9/11: utterly inadequate.)
As I said, the real heroes weren't there to entertain the kids, but to change their lives. One memory at a time, one gift at a time, starting with this Christmas.
Kudos to them.
And to my bud, Tim (Superman), who convinced me driving out to Rockford, IL would be worth it.
It surely was.
A World's Finest event indeed.