Storyteller William White shares a story, “The Dale Starr Show,” about a young man, Evan. Evan was crippled in a car accident at age 3 and grew up with a brace on his leg and a chip on his shoulder. He was teased in school, called a ‘cripple’ among some other awful names. Evan struggled in college as well, and finally ended up with a job as a janitor in a church.
Evan made friends with Pastor Evans, whom he related with because of the similar name. They would share a break time every day, talking about everything from Pastor Evans sermon to Evan’s love for country music.
When Evan learned that country music superstar Dale Starr was coming to the Civic Center in town, he quickly took a second job as a janitor there. He figured he could have a good chance to see and meet Dale Starr when he was there to perform.
One day he saw the bus of the Country music star’s bus parked outside the Civic Center. This was his big chance! Evan made up any excuse from sweeping the floor multiple times, to changing perfectly good light bulbs, just so he’d have a chance to get a glimpse of the man he idolized.
There were lots of young women being ushered in and out of Dale Starr’s room. Soon the manager hurried out and told Evan to quick get a broom, mop, & bucket and get in the room. It was Evan’s chance to meet Mr. Starr! He raced in all-excited and began mopping up the spilled water. Someone hollered at him from behind the curtain where he heard a lot of giggling. He tried mopping under the curtain, but the gruff voice hollered at him again. Then the curtain opened and there was Dale Starr, with a few young women giving him a lot of attention.
Starr gruffly spoke to Evan to hurry up, and then noticed his crippled leg. He said, “Hey girls, look at the cripple trying to clean up the mess! Get it in gear and hobble outta here, you pathetic crip!” He poured his drink on the floor and laughed, “Here’s a little more for you to clean up.”
Tears filled Evans eyes as years of mocking and teasing came flooding back to him. He was crushed that this singer he thought was so great would treat him so rudely.
Then Evan lost his temper. He flung the bucket of water bucket right at Dale Starr. As the singer stood there, stunned, Evan noticed something curly and black on the floor. Then he saw the singer was as bald as a glass bowl!
Evan and the girls broke out laughing and made their way out of the room.
The next day when Evan was having his usual coffee break time with Pastor Evans, he asked what the sermon was on this Sunday.
“This Sunday we focus on what the Church calls, ‘the Transfiguration,’ Pastor Evans told him. He went on to explain how the disciples saw Jesus with Moses and Elijah in all their heavenly splendor and glory. Pastor Evans told of the voice from the cloud, “This is My Son, the Beloved. Listen to Him!” It’s the account of Jesus’ great revelation to the disciples as God’s Son. “People often get this mixed up with power and glory,” he said, “but it is really about getting ready for Lent, and the suffering of Jesus for us.” But Pastor Evans didn’t know what to focus on this year. He asked Evan for ideas.
The two men sat in silence for a while. Then Evan said, “Maybe you could talk about how eventually all our heroes fail us. Perhaps you could talk about how all those people we put on pedestals eventually have to be taken down—our parents, older siblings, sports stars, entertainers, govt. officials, people we see on TV.”
Pastor Evans listened intently.
Evan continued. “Most of us have been disappointed in life by someone we thought was important. We get mixed up about what it means to be great. We make people into gods, which is idolatry.” [Isn’t that what the First Commandment is all about, confirmands?]
“The only one who doesn’t fail us is Jesus. The only one who teaches us the true meaning of greatness is Jesus.” Evan continued, “You know pastor, we need to be reminded of these things all the time. We need to be reminded that the greatness of Jesus led him to the cross. We need to hear how compassion is greatness and how we see his compassion with the healing of the blind and the curing of the lame. We need to hear what it is to be kind. Look at how Jesus treated everybody with dignity; he cared about children and people with disabilities.”
No one spoke for about two minutes before Pastor Evans said, “You’ve been a great help, my friend.”
“No problem,” Evan replied.*
On that high mountain, the disciples got a glimpse of true greatness looking at Moses and Elijah with Jesus in their heavenly splendor. Then they saw how that greatness translated into service and love when they came down the mountain with Jesus and followed Him to the cross.
What does greatness look like to you? When you look around, how do you measure greatness? Who do you idolize?
The Transfiguration of Jesus on that mountain was about the veil being lifted and the disciples seeing Jesus for who He truly was: the Son of God. They didn’t understand what it meant for a long time, but following the Resurrection I’m sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
That is probably the case for us in many respects. It’s hard to understand what Jesus means for us unless we experience His love and His service over a period of time. Jesus does not let us down, and Jesus is the one person in our lives that is completely filled with love for us. All Jesus does is out of love.
As we move into Lent, that love becomes so apparent. Be open to seeing the ways Jesus is active in your life, and how the Holy Spirit moves you to grow in faith and love for others. Think about your idols, and how you can let them go. Let Jesus lift the veil to show you how His love for you changes you and fills your life.