Summary: This in another in a series of youth sermons that parrallels Superman’s ability to fly with Jesus’ acension and promised return.
Look, Up in the Sky!
“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s Superman!” Those words are among the most familiar in American pop culture. Many people don’t realize, though, that when Superman first appeared he wasn’t able to fly. In the first issue of Action Comics and until the Superman radio serial, the Man of Steel could only jump great distances (about an eighth of a mile to be exact), hence the phrase “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Since mastering the pull of gravity, however, Superman has become the Nijinsky of the air. Grand and graceful, Superman flies freely through the skies of his beloved city, Metropolis.
His ability to soar above the clouds is perhaps Superman’s most inspiring super power. Who hasn’t, at one time or another, wished that they fly through the clouds, rising above the worries and troubles this world often brings? In Superman: The Movie, Lois Lane would have that wish granted.
With pen and paper in-hand, Lois waits on the balcony of her high-rise apartment building—watching the starry sky for the mysterious man who defies gravity. After checking her watch, she almost gives up hope of seeing (and interviewing) him again, but just as she turns away, Superman floats through the night air, lighting upon the ledge of Lois’ balcony. “Good evening, miss Lane,” Superman greets politely.
Startled by his sudden appearance, all Lois can manage to get out is, “Ah, hi...”
“Listen,” Superman courteously offers “it’s no trouble for me to come back later...”
“Don’t move!” Lois jumps to her feet running toward him. “Um, err... sure you can move, um... just don’t fly away, alright.”
After a series of inquiries about Superman’s vital statistic and where he comes from, Lois asks, “Just how fast do you fly?”
“Oh, I don’t really know,” Superman responds. “I’ve never actually bothered to time myself. Say, why don’t we find out?”
“And how do you propose we do that?” Lois questions.
Nodding toward the sky above, “Take a ride with me.”
“You mean I can fly?” Lois laughs.
“Well, actually I’d be handling the flying, if that’s okay?” Superman smiles.
“This is utterly fantastic!” Lois counters in disbelief. But after a little more coaxing, Superman gently takes her by the hand and leads her to the balcony’s edge. Just before Superman can lift them off the terrace, Lois looks up at him in amazement and says, “Clark says you’re just a figment of somebody’s imagination, like Peter Pan.”
“Peter Pan, huh? Peter Pan flew with children, Lois,” Superman answers, “in a fairytale.” Then, with one arm stretched out in front of them, as if leading the way, and the other arm wrapped around Lois, Superman lifts elegantly into the night.
At first, Lois covers her eyes and clings tightly to the strong arm of the Man of Steel as they fly above the city. The streets are all aglow beneath them. Superman’s cape ripples in the wind. After circling around the Statue of Liberty, Superman leads them high above the clouds into the light of the moon. With some encouragement from the Man of Steel, Lois stretches out her arms in euphoria, but accidentally lets go of Superman’s hand. Lois only falls a short distance before Superman catches her in his arms, once again, and the two embrace one another in the air—her arms wrapped around his neck.
Totally overwhelmed by this man who can soar with the eagles, Lois wonders to herself, “Can you read my mind? Do you know what it is that you do to me?” Her thoughts continue, “Here I am… holding hands with a god… wondering why you are all the wonderful things that you are… You can fly! You belong in the sky. You and I could belong to each other.”
After this visually stunning scene, audiences agreed that the producers of the Superman films were true to their promise: “You’ll believe a man can fly.” For Superman fans, that phrase has become something of a motto.
One of the things Brian Singer, director of Superman Returns, did to honor the Richard Donner films, was to end his movie the same way that Superman I and II ended more than twenty years prior. In all three pictures, after Superman has completed his work, the Man of Steel ascends into the heavens. Flying high above the Earth, Superman smiles as he looks down upon the world he has saved.
The citizens of Metropolis, Superman’s beloved city, are some of the most hope-filled people on Earth—living out their lives in awe and wonder as they watch the skies in anticipation for the return of their hero... their savior.
Fans of Superman and followers of Jesus have something in common—we believe a man can fly! The Bible says that after Jesus rose from the dead he appeared to his disciples and, “It was not long afterwards that he rose into the sky and disappeared into a cloud, leaving them staring after him” (Acts 1:9 TLB). Like the people of Metropolis, we have a Savior who has ascended into the heavens, and like them, we wait in anticipation for his return—living out our lives in awe and wonder, always watching the sky.