Netflix just recently released a series called The Umbrella Academy, another comic book series adapted for screen. The first season is all about warding off the impending apocalypse. If you haven’t seen the show, I’ll do my best not to spoil it for you. It is about a group of children, all born on the same day and adopted/purchased by an eccentric entrepreneur.
Each child has some sort of special power, and their adoptive father forms them into a crime-fighting team. During the latter part of the season, in their search to find the cause of the apocalypse, they discover that it is one of their own who will cause the end to come. Yet, it is not her, but a sort of force within her, or would it be more accurate to call it her real self or even her sinful self? Either way, she commits a violent act against one of her siblings while overcome with her powers. Upon realizing what she has done, she returns to her siblings in hopes of finding forgiveness.
It is at this moment that the show tricked me (I hadn’t read the comics in order to know what was coming). Luther, the strong man, seems to offer his repentant sibling grace. He greets her with open arms. However, his warm embrace slowly turns to a tighter and tighter embrace until she is made unconscious and locked in a vault, alone to deal with her anger and grief.
It strikes me, that in this story, Luther, the elder brother, is what church has been for many people. It is perceived, as a place of comfort and grace, a completely broken individual seeks comfort, peace, and forgiveness. Yet, all too often the church greets the broken with a false grace. A grace that says, "you are forgiven, but…" further oppressing the repentant sinner. This is not, however, the grace that Jesus offers. This is not the grace you…I…we need.
When it comes to The Umbrella Academy, I don’t know how the story ends. I suppose I’ll need to wait for next season, but I do know how ours ends. We have a savior who stands ready to save, calling us to his arms ready to embrace us, and proclaiming that it is finished and done for you. No matter what. So, in confidence, offer your repentant heart to Jesus, receive his grace. There is no sin to big, no wrong to great.
“Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore!
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.
He is able, He is able, He is able,
He is willing, doubt no more!”
~Joseph Hart (1759)
Blake Flattley is a New York City based singer/songwriter. Originally from Northern California, Blake relocated to New York City to help start OSNY, a community exploring spirituality and the unique calling they have to their neighborhood. In 2015 Blake released, “There Will Be Rest”, his first album of Church music. Prior to this release, Blake has released music with Winter Is On My Head (an annual charitable compilation of music he co-curates), his bands Graffiti Cathedral and The Orange Effect as well as written for the Armchair Project. Blake has also spoken at the WALI Summit, FiveTwo WikiConference, the LCMS National Youth Gathering and the Atlantic District’s Festival of Workshops.