I am back from a week’s vacation feeling refreshed, renewed and ready. I did not go anywhere — and I apologize, I meant to say “out of the office,” not “out of town” two Sundays ago — but instead took the time to come to a full stop quite a bit. I cleaned out my closets, I hung out with good friends, and I read Harry Potter. Say what you want about them, but I will stand by my opinion that they’re excellent books replete with the good news. And thinking through it, I don’t think the hero of the story is Harry Potter. I think the hero is Hermione Granger.
Sady Doyle agrees with me. She wrote a marvelous piece called “In Praise of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger Series,” which if you’re reading this digitially you can find here. In it, she writes a parallel universe’s review of the series focusing on the highly intelligent, hard-working, longsuffering and justice-oriented female lead of the Harry Potter series, celebrating a female lead who did not rely on the Chosen One legend, suddenly available magical artifacts and wise mentors properly scattered throughout her life. Instead, she does good because she wants good; she seeks justice and freedom for all creatures; she relies on the gifts she has to make the world better. I root for Hermione. I put up with Harry.
But the character that should be written about, I feel, is Neville Longbottom. The boy who almost was the Chosen One, the running gag turned rebel leader through the series. The one unafraid to fail because he was really good at it. The books (obviously) focused on the Big Three—Harry, Hermione and the useless Ron Weasley — and then on the bad guys, then on Dumbledore, then on Snape, then on Draco Malfoy, etc., etc., etc. And through it all is Neville, seeking his place in all of it. I won’t spoil the ending or the really neat bits in the seventh book if you haven’t read it — you’ve only had seven years, but whatever—instead, I’ll say this: if Neville was a follower of Jesus, he’d be Neville the Lesser.
This week, continuing on the path of the disciples who followed Jesus, we’ll be talking about two who we know very little about: Simon the Zealot and James the Lesser (Younger). Here’s what we know about James the Lesser: he was there. That’s it. Can he provide a model for discipleship? Is his way of following healthy or useful? Are we called to be The Lessers at some points in our lives and ministries? Let’s find out together. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.