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8th November 2020


Passage: Matthew 5; 1-10


There is a difference, isn’t there, between heroes and superheroes? Superheroes have extraordinary powers- like spiderman or batman or superwoman. They can do things which ordinary people-like us-cannot do.
Heroes, on the other hand, are ordinary people. They can be tall or short, fat or thin, fast at running or slow at walking, good at maths or good at music, builders or accountants- you name it, and you could find a hero there.
Heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things.
The soldiers who went into battle in the war were ordinary young men, coming from farms and factories, shops and offices, homes and families just like ours but they offered their lives in the hope of saving their country. Now that is heroism.

Then there were those left behind who could not fight but who were still determined to play their part in the war.
In the old comedy series, Dad’s Army, you see ordinary people living in a seaside town during the Second World War: the bank manager, the butcher, the undertaker, the stupid boy, the women in the voluntary services all giving huge amounts of time and energy to what they called the war effort. Yes, they made silly mistakes, which make us laugh today but they also showed courage, ingenuity, comradeship -far more than in normal times- as they-amateurs- set out to protect their town from the threat of enemy army invasion. That is heroism.

You can be a hero no matter where you are or who you are and that is something very important for each one of us to remember today.
Because we are now living through a time of huge crisis. We are having to face a deadly enemy in the shape of the Corona Virus Pandemic. It does not only threaten our lives; it also threatens our long-term health, our livelihoods, our homes, our families, our communities, our mental health and even our faith.
This period of time in which we are now living will go down in history as the great pandemic and in seventy-five years’ time people will be looking back at us and what we did and how we coped.

So, as the Scouts just reminded us, who are our heroes? Who are the people who are protecting us- our health, our families, our places of work, our schools? Who are the people who are simply helping to make us feel better, who are making us smile, who are keeping us hopeful? Think about the heroes in your life today and, as the Scouts just did, say a thank-you to them when you get the chance.

But how can we be heroes ourselves? How can we be the kind of people that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will look back on and say ‘Thank-you. Well done, people of 2020’?
It is not easy, is it? When every day seems to bring more bad news. When you have to keep making plans and then tear them all up again. When you cannot be with the people you love. When you cannot do all the things you love. When half the people in the media say we are getting things right and the other half say we are getting things wrong. To be honest, you don’t even feel like getting out from under the duvet in the morning, let alone making a special effort to be nice and kind and brave.

If I am going to be an ordinary person doing any kind of extraordinary thing, then I am going to need some serious back up.
I am going to need God. But where is God in all this mess? you wonder. &&&&&&&&&&&&&

A long time ago, Jesus was talking to his friends and followers about where you find the blessing of God in difficult times. You can read his words in the Bible in Matthew chapter five. I have tried to express them in the way we speak now:
“God blesses you when you are exhausted and confused because then you lean on him and find his kingdom.

God blesses you when you are grieving for he comforts you.

God blesses you when you don’t try to have everything your own way because then you get to enjoy the whole world.

God blesses you when you want more than anything else to see goodness happening in the world because you will help to make that goodness happen.

God blesses you when you are kind to other people because you will then be kind to yourself.

God blesses you when you are honest with him and don’t try to pretend being something you are not. When you allow God to see you clearly, you will see Him clearly.

God blesses you when you try to make peace rather than getting your own back on people who hurt you or stir up anger in others. Those who make peace are God’s own children.

God even blesses you when others call you crazy or stupid for doing right and believing in Him because He will stand by you.”

It is hard to believe in God when the world looks so very bad right now. But what Jesus was saying is that God’s power takes effect in us- when we turn to him and ask him to make us kinder and braver and stronger, and to lead us in the right direction. God can do extraordinary things with ordinary people-like us.

Right now the world badly needs heroes: people who are ready to make a really big effort-an extraordinary effort- to move us from a bad place to a good place. We need children who are kind to each other at school and who use social media to spread inspiring and funny things rather than being angry or nasty.
We need families who take care of each other and respect each other’s needs.
We need people working faithfully at their jobs, where they can and how they can.
We need people who will smile cheerfully and exchange greetings even from a distance.
We need everyone to be careful and to respect the rules and restrictions in place to help save our lives.
We need to encourage each other in faith and in community.
It sounds very ordinary but there will be many days yet when it will take extraordinary effort and when we have to be reminded to “be a hero.”
But today we are honouring the ordinary men and women of the past who became heroes by doing extraordinary things to save their homes, their families, their nation, their world.
And as we thank God for their heroism, let us ask Him to make us heroes in our time, moment by moment, day by day.

Can anything separate us from God’s love? asked St Paul, when he was going through a bad time. Can trouble or hardship or hunger or persecution or danger or violence? No, even in the face of all these things, we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us.

So, let’s be heroes. And may God bless you through the weeks and months ahead. Amen.