Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the word of the day. Great Scrabble word. The word means “fear of Friday the thirteenth.”
There is a lot of discussion just about everywhere today of today being unlucky. For those who are superstitious this is a horrendous day to do just about anything. But you ask, is there anything behind this at all? UrbanLegands.com cites a 1993 English Study as saying that “Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%. Staying at home is recommended.” The study published in the British Medical Journal, studied the number of vehicles on the same highway on Friday April 6th and Friday April 13th and the number of motor vehicle accidents resulting in hospitalization on those two days. Paraskevidekatriaphobics will not be surprised to hear that while there were fewer cars on that same highway on Friday the thirteenth, there was a higher rate of accident and hospitalization. And here I have been suggesting that this stuff was just silly — a real ‘honest to God’ scientific study seems to refute my ‘this is just silly’ response to Friday the thirteenth! But wait a minute….what if you are Italian and driving on that highway? In Italy, thirteen is a lucky number and folklore around Friday 13 is not nearly as prevalent. So the moral of the story is…. if you are going to drive on the highway today, do not drive in England…. take a nice drive in Italy instead.
Here is some more interesting lore about 13 from UrbanLegends.com
Legend has it: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don’t have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil’s luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are 13 witches in a coven.
I sort am freaked out now — but glad to report that my name has only 11 letters. In the meantime, I had a rough start to today. The family of Greg Lambden (read my last post)called me at 10:30 am to let me know that they were at the cemetery waiting for me to do an internment. I was so upset. Somehow through a communication error I had the date for this all wrong. Thankfully the Lambdens were patient and understanding and we had a beautiful last farewell to Gregory. That being said, as I was rushing to the cemetery, I was thinking maybe there is something to this Friday the 13th business. I mean I am driving to excessive speeds and got trapped behind no less than three, ‘let’s go for a drive in the county’ drivers, a cement truck, and a road paint crew that had closed a road. Maybe this day is in some way jinxed….then I remembered that I am religious, not superstitious and decided checking scripture might be helpful. The Lectionary is a tool used to set different scripture to be read for each day as a part of praying the office. Here is the Epistle reading for today:
Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
What is most interesting and chilling for me about this reading is the fact that Sandie and Danny chose this as one of the readings for Greg’s Memorial this past Wednesday. WOW! I read this and thought, ‘this is unbelievable.’ Perhaps this day is just meant to come together as it has. What are the odds that the reading that the family choose for Greg was appointed in a daily Lectionary the day of his committal two days later?
So on the Friday the 13th, I am pleased to have had opportunity, late as I was, to be reminded of what each and every day (Friday 13th included) promises us. While some worry today about bad luck or what they should and should not do, we a s a people declare that death, darkness, superstition and even bad luck have no dominion over us. No matter the challenges of each day we leap forward confident in the God who tells us to be immoveable in excelling in doing God’s work and being a people who bring joy, light, hope, healing and forgiveness. Everything on this earth is perishable — even our superstitions. But the unwavering Love of God is eternal and will sustain us in all things.
Thank you Danielle, Sandie and Danny for being so understanding on this Friday the 13th. Greg was obviously loved very much and cared for so very well by a family that fully understood that there is victory in living and victory in life that death will never be able to destroy.
Today I officiated at the funeral of Greg Lambden. While I did not know Greg, I know his family and I know how very important he was to his family. Greg was only 35 when he died. His life was way too short. Greg had Spinal Bifida. One doctor gave him no chance at life when he was born. Thirty-five years later, we were celebrating a life of a man who made a big difference in this world. Greg had to overcome much more than most of us can imagine. From all accounts, Greg did not just overcome and survive — he thrived and he loved life. He loved his family and he loved his friends.
I was witness to something remarkable today. Nearly 200 people filled a room and brought their love together to blanket Dan and Sandie, and Danielle a warm support to help them face this incredible loss. I was also so very privileged to hear a couple fo wonderful eulogies to this great young man. Steve Kerr spoke so well and reminded us all that Greg is so very free from any weighty concern, worry or pain and is soaring freely. Greg’s good friend (his brother really) Nav gave an incredible tribute to his friend. He sang, he told stories, he wept, he laughed, he consoled, he encouraged, he reminisced and he gave us a snapshot of a live which was lived with and incredible will and an indomitable spirit. I was so moved by Nav’s testimony of how important Greg was in his life.
As I listened to Sandie and Dan tell me about Greg and as I heard these powerful tributes to Greg, I was reminded of the words of the great American priest Phillips Brooks – “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger [people]! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks.”
I often buckle under challenges that pale in comparison to what Greg had to face every day. It becomes easy for me to look at whatever today’s aggravation might be and pray that things would just be easier for me. Then I meet people like Greg who somehow always found the power to equal the many tasks that he had. I get frozen by fear at times, particularly when facing the unknown. Greg set out to conquer with grace so many unknowns. I am grateful to have been a part of this powerful celebration of life today. Thankful because Greg taught me something – even in death. You see the wonder of it all is that in telling Greg’s story – we allow the life that he had not just to be honoured, but to continue to have an impact. Greg’s impact on the world lives on in the lives of the people that he loved and shaped.
The day is coming to a close for me. As I reflect on the events of today, I find myself praying for courage like Greg’s and the for the strength like his — that I may find strength equal to my tasks. Thank you Greg Lamden and thank you to your family and friends for inspiring so many today by sharing his story.
To read Greg Lambden’s Obituary click here