"Holding Out For a Hero"

This time last week, if many of us were asked if we had heard of Charles Ramsey of Cleveland, Ohio, we'd say, "no." Today, anyone who has turned on a television, read a newspaper, or logged on to the internet would likely answer differently.

Ramsey has gained notoriety as the person whose lunch was interrupted by a young woman's screams. He went to her aid, helped knock part of a door down, and assisted her in calling 911. It was only after this rush of events that he discovered the truth: he had helped to free three young women held hostage for a decade.

One day, Charles Ramsey is eating lunch from McDonald's. The next, he's on national television and receiving the highest number of hits on YouTube. He has now been called a "hero" along with the young woman whose screams caught his attention.

I've read numerous blogs and reflections this week about the rescues in Cleveland: from joyful celebration to harsh criticism, from fearful warnings to justice-seking lament. On the day of the rescue, one word that kept popping through headlines was "heroic." Charles Ramsey was heroic for responding to what he heard. The young woman was heroic for screaming out. She, two other women, and a child were heroic for enduring hell on earth in order to survive.

And from this headline story we hear a call to look for the heroes among us. Heroes take risks. Heroes resist fear. Heroes go where they might not want to go or do the opposite of what feels "good" to them. Heroes are often acting on instinct and don't want that title.

A few weeks ago, in reflecting on the Boston Marathon bombings, I was especially drawn to the image of rescue workers running towards the bomb site as others ran away. Do we call them "heroes?" Absolutely. Would they want to be called "heroes"? Probably not. Many will say that they are just doing their job, doing what they know to do, doing what is right.

Friends, there are heroes among us everyday. We often don't see them as such because we don't pay attention. In the Bible, it's easy for us to point out "heroes of the faith." Immediate answers are usually Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, John the Baptist, Paul, and of course, Jesus Christ. But what about Eleazar, Abraham's friend who was faithful to him? What about the two nameless spies sent by Joshua into dangerous Jericho? What about the vast array of supporters who helped protect King David from the jealous Saul in I Chronicles 12? What about Jesus' disciples who are not mentioned as frequently, like Bartholomew and Simon the Zealot? God accomplished mighty acts not just through the well-known names of Scriptures. The mighty acts were possible because of the many other "heroes" around them who acted with bravery, courage, and faithfulness.

In the rescue of three women in Cleveland, Ohio, this week, I am especially grateful for Charles Ramsey. He has reminded us to pay attention to one another. Because he paid attention, people were set free. He has reminded us to take risks for one another. Because he took a risk, salvation became reality. He has reminded us that heroes are not made in the headlines. They are made on the sidelines, in the house next door, in the everyday places. Let us not seek to be heroes; let's simply be who we are and give thanks for the heroic who live among us.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian