Ghost stories, for some strange reason that has always escaped me, are part and parcel of the summer camp experience. My first summer as a registered camper, I discovered the power of ghost stories to torment little children. It has remained with me my entire life.
When I was 7 yrs old at Centerville Mills YMCA Camp, my counselor told us the story of Mad Axe Willie. The ghost of Mad Axe Willie lived in the woods around the camp. Once a summer, late at night, he would emerge out of the woods to take his revenge. He would pick a cabin and beat his mighty axe against the outside walls. Then Mad Axe Willie would come in and attack the children.
The night my counselors told us the Mad Axe Willie story he had coordinated events with the neighboring cabin. They would listen outside for the right time, then beat on the cabin walls. I was easily terrified of such stories. So, when the other cabin started beating on our cabin, I jumped out of bed and screamed,“It’s Mad Axe Willie!” and ran out into the darkness.
Ghost stories become part of the tradition people love, but rarely think rationally about the impact. While they maybe entertaining, they leave people terrified of the world and afraid to be alone. Still, the vast majority of people love to be terrified of the world. It would be different if there were a hero, a savior or some intervention at the end which saves the vulnerable. But that never happens in camp ghost stories.
Today’s reading is like a camp ghost story in many ways. Jesus speaks of destruction and signs of torment. Yet, there is one exception, the one who is speaking is not a camp counselor. The one speaking will take suffering, destruction and death to the cross and will be raised to grant others everlasting life. The end story of all Christian destruction is resurrection.
Destruction is not hard to find in our daily living. Hope is often the more elusive entity to grasp. In the midst of Jesus’ ghost story, he says, “Beware you are not led astray.” Beware today your heart is not claimed by destruction and hopelessness. Keep your heart and mind on Christ Jesus, the one who promises to make beautiful things out of broken pieces.
Click to read: Luke 21: 5-11
Reflection Questions: What do you go after that distracts you from being your best self? Where do you find yourself believing in words of destruction over words of hope? Where do you find hope in your daily life? How would you like Jesus to breath hope into you today?
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash.com and Vidar Kristiansen