In 2 weeks time I’ll be at a BAP (Bishops Advisory Panel), with 7 others, all of whom are in the process of discerning whether God is calling us to ordained ministry within the c of e. If the outcome is positive then it will mean lots of change ahead for my family. At times it can feel as though this change looms over us. Scary and exciting at the same time.
Yet, as I write, something bigger than the BAP is happening at home. My 3 year old son has a new hero. It’s not one of the cyclists we’ve watched in the Tour de Yorkshire this week, nor is it one of Klopp’s mighty red men who qualified for the champions league final this week. This hero, Judah follows everywhere, wants to be just like him, thinks he’s amazing and cries when he leaves him. Enter hero daddy!! My responsibility as a dad is only starting to become clear to me. Judah’s every second word is ‘daddy’, he needs my affirmation in everything he does. I am scared by the power it feels like I hold to shape who he becomes.
Naturally, I like to think I am close to all 4 of my kids but as Judah is entering the next stage of his identity formation, it seems daddy is definitely his hero. It’s exciting and scary!
Personally I don’t feel like the kind of hero our culture demands. I have no super powers, not really achieved anything amazing, never rescued anyone. It’s actually more scary than exciting to think I might be Judah’s hero.
At the start of Isaiah chapter 3, we read God through the prophet threatening to remove the supply and support from the community in Jerusalem and Judah. The list that follows this warning is what would be taken away and therefore what is needed to underpin a flourishing community. Unsurprisingly food and water top the list but not far behind God says he will remove a bunch of different types of people. Interestingly top of this list are heroes? This text has fascinated me for years. How can heroes be part of the supply and support of a flourishing community? Don’t heroes swoop and save and then move on to their next mission?
Yet when I look within my church community I start to see and understand what real heroes look like. Perhaps the type of hero the Bible suggests are important to the flourishing of a community? These are the people that have so inspired me, that I admire deeply and would be happy to serve if God is calling me to be a vicar.
The heroes I’ve seen persevere when everything is stacked against them. They gracefully cope with the pressure of chronic illness in their family. Heroes smile and encourage others when they themselves are in desperate pain. They choose to honour those who have hurt them. They give generously to those from whom they will never receive anything. They have deep questions yet still trust. They walk through the shadow of the valley of death yet are not overcome. They listen and don’t judge.
The Tour de Yorkshire has put sports heroes in our midst this week. The organisers, the cyclists and the fans have all played their part. At the moment my son believes I am invincible, the fastest, strongest hero out there. When we watch the race on tv he shouts “that’s daddy” at the peloton leader. One day, and it will be pretty soon, he will realise I am not any of those things. But my prayer is Judah will actually see someone who models some of what I’ve described above. The stuff of heroes which over the years I have been privileged to witness in our community at All Saints, Ilkley.
Every community needs heroes to flourish, their capes or dog collars aren’t always necessary but for sure someone will be watching and drawing from their example. It could be you…scary and exciting?