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Everyday Heroes
Matthew 10:40-42
by Rev. Frank Schaefer

"Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple--truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."  Matthew 10:40-42

Just a week ago--as I was thinking about these words by Jesus--I came across this headline:

Woman helps blind Chicago Cubs fan hail a taxi outside Wrigley Field
- Casey Spelman helped a blind man hail a cab outside Wrigley Field in Chicago
- As the 26-year-old helped the man, a witness took photos and put them online
- She was happy she was there to help and that he was able to find a ride home

Isn’t that a perfect modern-day example of what Jesus is talking about? If we all started to be a bit kinder to one another, this world would be such a happier and peaceful place.

And notice that according to Jesus’ words, it doesn’t take a huge effort. It doesn’t take an act of bravery to show a gesture of kindness. Just welcoming another person who God sends your way, just helping a blind man hail a taxi, just giving a cup of water to a child will have tremendous rewards. Superheroes not necessarily needed...just everyday heroes.

It’s interesting to me that it’s often harder to show little gestures of kindness than to perform heroic deeds. In one of my wedding speeches, I ask each wedding party, whether they would be willing to take a bullet for their partner, and both usually answer with an enthusiastic “yes, of course!” “Well, that’s wonderful and a testimony to your great love. “ And then I follow up with this question: “tell me this: if your partner asks you to do a daily chore, like mowing the lawn, or stopping by the grocery store on the way home coming from work, would you be willing to do that without grumbling on a regular basis?”

The truth is that it’s often easier for us human beings to show grand heroic gestures than to show small gestures of kindness in the routine of everyday life. Ask me to rescue a baby from a burning building and I’ll snap into action; ask me to take out the trash and I will likely bark at you or whine about it when I finally drag myself up to do it.

You see how I am not preaching this sermon for you, but rather for myself?

What a difference we can make if we become kinder in our relations with others.

On my way home yesterday, I tuned into one of the Christian radio stations and heard this amazing testimony of a mother whose daughter had sent an encouraging text message to a girl from her class who attempted suicide. Every day she sent her a message. The girl, along with her entire family was so deeply touched by that gesture of compassion and kindness. It made all the difference for this girl to know she had at least one friend who reached out to her.

My favorite story with regard to putting Jesus’ words about offering a cup of water is that of Saint Marks U.M. Church in Atlanta. St. Marks was a dying church, only a few older folks were attending it at that time. Every year, the pride parade goes right by this church on a Sunday morning. During one of those parades about 25 years ago, the church’s new minister saw that the church across the street from them had put guards in place to keep any queer folks from entering. Abhorred by such a display of hostility, the minister asked his small flock to counter by opening up the church doors and offering cups of water to anybody who walked by.

This gesture of welcoming queer folks and offering a cup of refreshing water was not only the right thing to do but had huge rewards for this church. A reporter happened to take note of this “tale of two churches” and wrote an article. St. Mark’s became known as a gay friendly church and grew into one of the largest churches in the region while the conservative church across the street was eventually torn down.

The translation of the special music we heard earlier goes like this: “A pebble falls into the water, silently and unnoticed. And though it may be very small, it draws wide circles. When we experience God’s great love and start sharing it by word and deed, it too draws wide circles and affects the world around us.”

Everyday heroes show small gestures of kindness. And by these small gestures, we can make this world a much better place. Let’s make an effort to be kinder, to be an everyday hero, not out of a sense of duty, not because God promises a reward, but because such deeds will spread like a wildfire.

Friends, we must understand the power of “cumulative kindness.” Superheroes can change this world too, but there is a power in little acts of kindness that spreads across the world. This force is so powerful because it’s contagious and can grow into something huge. Acts of kindness and compassion will bring change, and hope, and lead to a more peaceful and just world.

That should be our motivation. To inspire others, to encourage others, to make a difference. That in and of itself should be reward enough for us. So, let’s commit to become everyday heroes, my friends.