Posted tagged ‘Pentecost’

The Back Story

May 20, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            May 20, 2018

                                       

Why am I the way I am?

Why do I always drink my coffee with cream and sugar?

Why do I always put my left leg into my pants first?

Why do I hate beer?

Questions that may intrigue no one else but myself! They are questions that hint at something from my past that caused me to think, act, or feel in a certain way in the present. 

It’s my back story reemerging. For example, I drink my coffee with cream and sugar because that’s how both my mom and dad drank it. It’s a family practice. Once in a great while I’ll drink a cup of coffee black, or with only one of the additions, but it feels strange…it feels off, like I’m putting my pants on backwards and wondering where that zipper went!

“Back Story” is a term writers use to illuminate a character’s past, like telling the story of how the main character received the scar that ran down the side of his face. It’s a glimpse into why someone is the way he is. 

Everyone has Back Story! It’s what we’re rooted in, for good and for bad. 

When tragedy happens, something unexpectedly evil, we ask questions about the perpetrator. We search for some kind of explanation for the unexplainable. Why would Dimitrios Pagourtzis kill students that he went to school with each day? I’ve noticed that there have been several rumored reasons set forward already. What’s his Back Story? What pushed him to do something so evil that it would break the heart of a community and send more shudders throughout the nation?

That question will trouble Santa Fe High School for generations to come. “Why” will continue to rumble through the minds of the students and faculty each time they look at the building or walk down the hallways. A mass shooting will become their Back Story.

If I was pastoring a church in Santa Fe, Texas, what would I say this morning to a sanctuary of confused and troubled faces? What would I tell them on this Sunday that is also Pentecost Sunday?

It is the “Back Story” in our faith journey that I would bring forth. Pentecost is that holy moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples of Jesus. In a world that is exhausted by its unrest, Pentecost is part of our Back Story of hope. It is why we believe that good can overcome evil. It’s the reason each follower of Jesus believes that lives can be redeemed, that light can shine into darkness. 

Pentecost is the Greek name for “Shavuot”, the spring harvest festival of the Israelites, which was happening at the time of the coming of the Holy Spirit. If you could find more than a couple of Christians out of a hundred who would know the spring harvest festival part of Pentecost you’d be doing good. Our Back Story is now connected to the promise of the Spirit. 

We may never know, and probably, never understand why Dimitrios Pagourtzis opened fire on people he knew and had been educated with? Whatever was going on in his past may never make any kind of sense to us. Our culture minimizes the idea of “The Evil One”, until the Bible tells us he comes to deceive and destroy. It’s his M.O., his Back Story that continues in the present and on into the days ahead.

But followers of Christ know their Back Story, too, and that it leads us on to be agents of change, and lovers of all people. It’s my Back Story that causes me to fear no evil, and have the assurance of future hope!

Coming To Grips With My Quirkiness

July 4, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 July 4, 2016

                                      

I was sitting at Starbucks this morning doing some writing. There was a man sitting in my seat! I had to sit in a different seat and try to write. The words weren’t coming in spite of the coffee. Then the man left…and I moved like a 5:00 A.M. Black Friday shopper at the doors of Best Buy as it opens.

And it hits me that I’m quirky!

“Quirky” is defined as “characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits.” Rushing to get a specific seat at Starbucks- the one at the end of the counter that faces out towards Pike’s Peak- is a little quirky.

There are preferences and there are quirks. Quirks are those things that are a little bizarre that we try to convince ourselves are simply preferences. I prefer to use a certain pillow to sleep with. That’s a preference. The “blankie” I prefer, that is becoming a little threadbare, is quirky. When a 62 year old takes his blanket with him on road trips…that’s quirky! Call me Linus!

I reuse my dental floss. That’s quirky! However, my wife disagrees. She says it is simply disgusting…so I hide it from her. That’s quirkiness spiced with deception!

There are certain brands of clothing that I wear, and no other. I buy my underwear and socks at J.C. Penney’s because…because that’s where my mom would buy them when I was a kid. She worked there! One time I got some underwear from a different store. It was suppose to be more manly. Instead, it kept pinching the twins! Soon after that Goodwill got a package of items that were almost new!

If I go to a rummage sale that happens to have jigsaw puzzles, watch out! Even though I have about thirty of them already that I haven’t put together, when I see another it’s like I see gold! I’m a borderline hoarder. I grieved the recent loss of my carrying case of cassette tapes, even though we no longer have a cassette player.

I’ve got my quirks!

We all do! Churches are the quirkiest of all! Most churches have to have a Sunday bulletin with the order of worship in it, even though the worship order hasn’t changed since the Day of Pentecost…the original Day of Pentecost!

Eighty percent of regular Sunday worship attenders sit in the same seat each Sunday. My Starbuck’s seat preference would seem to be normal behavior!

Churches put quirky things on their outdoor signs, like “All Are Welcome!” What other business or public place puts “All Are Welcome” on their sign? For some reason, however, churches seem to have to state it. Of course, sometimes some people discover a little later on that all aren’t welcome, but that’s another issue entirely.

Churches are quirky about change. “If it was good enough for Jesus…” Sometimes it is almost like entering into a time warp. One church did not allow any translation of the Bible except the King James Version. All other versions were seen as being tainted and worldly. “If it was good for Jesus…” It couldn’t even be the New King James, because the New King James did not talk in Jesus’ language, using “Thy’s” and “Thou’s”, and other verbiage that sounded extra spiritual.

Churches are quirky!

It is what it is! In my act of looking normal I am shadowed by my quirkiness. Sometimes, however, quirkiness is a good thing. For example, if someone had been sitting in my seat at Starbucks I would never have been able to write this blog.