Summary: This fun sermon series uses comic-book heroes as modern-day parables, uncovering hidden spiritual messages in the stories of superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Spider-man. Most of these sermons are expository, alliterated and have PowerPoint!
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 10/13/2013
If you’re just joining us, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks uncovering some of the hidden spiritual lessons found in the pages of comic-books. Like modern-day parables, I’m convinced that superheroes like Superman, Thor, Spider-man and others can illustrate some important biblical truths. We’ve already talked about Superman and Thor. This week I’d like to talk about another iconic superhero—Batman!
Most people know the story of Batman. As a young boy Bruce Wayne excitedly emerges from a theater in Gotham City along with his wealthy socialite parents, Thomas and Martha. But as the trio makes their way through a dimly lit alley, a mugger suddenly steps out of the shadows, waving a gun and demanding money. Before the couple can comply, the mugger pulls the trigger and young Bruce watches as his parents are brutally gunned down in front of him.
Days later, kneeling by his bedside, Bruce solemnly vows to avenge his parents’ death by waging war on criminals. Relying on his billion-dollar inheritance, Bruce traveled abroad, studying under the greatest criminologists, detectives and martial artists the world had to offer. When he finally returned home to Gotham City, he adopted a persona that would strike fear into the hearts of criminals—the Batman.
But what started off as one man’s war on crime quickly turned into a family affair. While attending the circus, Bruce witnessed the murder of a husband and wife trapeze team. Their son and fellow acrobat, Dick Grayson, watched in horror as they fell to their deaths from the top of the tent. Identifying with his loss, Bruce adopts the boy and, with the help of his butler Alfred, trains him to become Batman’s sidekick—Robin.
In time, Dick Grayson grew up, started calling himself Nightwing, and was replaced by a new Robin. In fact, there have been several Robins over the years, and many others heroes have also become a part of the Batman cadre of crime fighters—including more than one Batgirl, Huntress, Oracle, Azrael, Batwoman, Catwoman, and even Ace the Bat-Hound.
This is what has made Batman such a fun character to costume as for my family. We are a family of five and, because I’m a little OCD, I don’t like mixing and matching a collection of random heroes when we attend events; rather, I prefer for us to all be part of a team or family of superheroes.
After taking my first foray into costuming as Superman, I knew the next character I wanted to tackle was Batman. I had sharpened by sewing skills and worked out the kinks in creating Superman costumes, so when Halloween of 2009 rolled around I started working hard to outfit everyone in our family with a Batman-themed costume.
I created a classic comic-style Batman in grey and blue for myself, an original Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl for my wife, and a 90s Tim Drake version of Robin for my son. By the time all those were finished Halloween was fast approaching, so I had to cheat and buy off-the-shelf costumes for my two girls who were only two years old and three months old at the time! We debuted these costumes at a Trunk-or-Treat event we planned for our small-town church. Kids from all over the neighborhood were excited to see Batman and his supporting cast handing out candy in front of our church-building. We managed to draw quite a crowd and gave away tons of candy along with countless gospel tracts and invitations to church!
Since then we’ve done multiple other versions of the characters and gone through several other bat-costumes.
What spiritual truth does the Caped Crusader illustrate? Simple. Batman’s persistent pursuit of partners is a vivid reminder that you and I were formed for God’s family. The loss of his paternal family drove Bruce to build the largest crime-fighting family in comic-books and he really relies upon his surrogate family for support, strength and stability in his war on crime. That’s what the church is supposed to provide for you.
It is so easy to hit the snooze button on Sunday morning when the alarm sounds, roll over and go back to sleep. Why get up early on one of your few off-days? Why go through the hassle of dressing up and the getting the kids ready? Why go to the trouble of finding a parking space near the front and pew space near the back?
You go to work to make money so you can pay the bills. You go to the gym for exercise and better health. You go to the mall to shop for clothes and the grocery store to buy food. You go to the lake to fish, the ball game to cheer, and the golf course for fun.
But church? Why go to there?