St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church

147 Park Ave, Amityville NY 11701

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Published: November 1, 2019

The Revenge of the Co-Inky_Dink

A number of years ago I wrote a Messenger article titled “Co-Inky-Dink”. It was about various odd coincidences I have experienced in my life. (“Co-Inky-Dink” is how Popeye the Sailor pronounces “coincidence”). In this Messenger, I’d like to write a sequel to that article---because in the last few months I’ve experienced a whole slew of unusual coincidences.

Coincidences, I believe, come from God. One can believe one of two things about the world: Either it is a place where things occur randomly, or a place where things unfold according to a divine plan. If everything is random, then coincidences have no meaning. If there is a divine plan, then God is involved in every coincidence. There is a French saying : “A coincidence is a circumstance in which God chooses to remain anonymous”. A Christian author actually refers to coincidences as “God-incidences”. A beloved verse that applies to the divine plan is: “God works all things for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) “All things” include so-called coincidences. And remember Christ’s words that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God being part of the event; so certainly he is involved in the seemingly coincidental events of our lives. That said, let me tell you about a few recent coincidences I have experienced, and what God was perhaps saying through them. --One of my original “Co-inky-Dink” stories was about a Friday the 13th during a full moon upon which a black cat ran in front of my car. I laughed, but a few moments later, my engine started smoking. Last September, there was another full moon on Friday the 13th. I was half-expecting the black cat, but none showed up. But the very next day, Saturday the 14th, a black cat ran in front of me in a parking lot! And I said to the cat: “A day late and a dollar short, pal!” I think in this coincidence God was poking a bit of fun at our superstitions. In a world where God is in control, there is no room for superstition! To quote from the Book of Wonder (Stevie, that is),

“Superstition ain’t the way.” --I was in a small West Virginia town and was stopped to do some navigating. A white pickup truck pulled up behind me. I whispered, “Go around me, bro.” And he did go around me. And as he passed, I saw his license plate: “Dude Bro”. Message? We all are brothers and sisters, each of us created by God in His own image. --There were several odd coincidences at the funeral of a beloved church member, Ann Gillespie. Since Ann worked for an aeronautics company, I decided to use the poem “High Flight”—“I have slipped the surly bonds of earth…reached out my hand and touched the face of God.” The poem is about flying in a plane—but to me it also suggested going to heaven. In the middle of the sermon, it dawned on me that the author of the poem was John Gillespie Magee. I hadn’t made that connection—I had chosen the poem simply because of Ann’s work in aeronautics. Why did I know of this poem?

Because it was the end-of-the-day sign off feature for one of the TV stations I grew up with (remember, my home town of San Antonio used to have four Air Force bases, so “High Flight” was a natural). One of the other TV stations used “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel for their sign off. And guess what a soloist at Ann’s funeral sang? “You’ll Never Walk Alone”! And both “High Flight” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” mention the lark. Message from these coincidences? In death the Christian indeed slips the bonds of earth, joins the great multitude that rejoices before God’s throne, and sings to God’s glory like a lark! --On the first Sunday after Pastor Herbert Kern’s death, I accidentally pulled out two identical hedgehogs during my children’s puppet message. (I had lost a hedgehog, and replaced it, and then found the original one). I thought nothing of it until I realized— the official name of the Hedgehog (an Avon product) was Herbert! Herbert the Hedgehog! To me the twin Hedgehogs were a little message from God that Pastor Kern was with God, that we were still connected with Pastor Kern through Jesus, and that God will be with us as we continue our journey with Jesus. --I did a wedding blessing for a couple from our congregation. I have two wedding stoles, and was deciding which to wear when it dawned on me: the first stole was given to me by a lady who worked in a church supply store that had been founded by the bride’s parents; and the second stole was one that I had inherited from the groom’s late uncle, a Lutheran pastor. That was a stunning coincidence—and I ended up wearing one stole during the first half of the service, and the other during the second half. Message? God is at work through all the events of our lives. --This one is not recent—but it’s a good one. When I was a pastor in Albany, I took a trip with a dear friend to Cajun country in Louisiana. I wanted to meet the legendary singer D. L. Menard—“the Cajun Hank Williams”. So my friend and I went to Menard’s hometown of Erath, Louisiana. The sheriff’s department actually helped us locate Menard’s house (“He’s just an old country hick. He’d love to meet you,” said one deputy). Alas, Menard’s mother told us that he was out on a concert tour. So I returned, disappointed, to Albany. Three or four days later, I opened the Albany Times-Union— and saw an announcement that D. L Menard would be performing at Washington Park! So I went to the concert and got to meet D. L. Menard. I told him my story about the trip to Erath. He even dedicated a song to me! The message: Often we expend much effort to attain something—I traveled 1568 miles to try to meet D. L. Menard. Yet our efforts end up in failure. But then God drops in our laps the thing we seek, as a gift! This applies to our salvation: We can try and try to earn God’s love and favor (like Blessed Martin Luther did in the monastery), but our efforts are to no avail. And then we discover that God’s love and forgiveness is a pure gift that we receive through Jesus!

and was stopped to do some navigating. A white pickup truck pulled up behind me. I whispered, “Go around me, bro.” And he did go around me. And as he passed, I saw his license plate: “Dude Bro”. Message? We all are brothers and sisters, each of us created by God in His own image. --There were several odd coincidences at the funeral of a beloved church member, Ann Gillespie. Since Ann worked for an aeronautics company, I decided to use the poem “High Flight”—“I have slipped the surly bonds of earth…reached out my hand and touched the face of God.” The poem is about flying in a plane—but to me it also suggested going to heaven. In the middle of the sermon, it dawned on me that the author of the poem was John Gillespie Magee. I hadn’t made that connection—I had chosen the poem simply because of Ann’s work in aeronautics. Why did I know of this poem? Because it was the end-of-the-day sign off feature for one of the TV stations I grew up with (remember, my home town of San Antonio used to have four Air Force bases, so “High Flight” was a natural). One of the other TV stations used “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel for their sign off. And guess what a soloist at Ann’s funeral sang? “You’ll Never Walk Alone”! And both “High Flight” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” mention the lark. Message from these coincidences? In death the Christian indeed slips the bonds of earth, joins the great multitude that rejoices before God’s throne, and sings to God’s glory like a lark! --On the first Sunday after Pastor Herbert Kern’s death, I accidentally pulled out two identical hedgehogs during my children’s puppet message. (I had lost a hedgehog, and replaced it, and then found the original one). I thought nothing of it until I realized— the official name of the Hedgehog (an Avon product) was Herbert! Herbert the Hedgehog! To me the twin Hedgehogs were a little message from God that Pastor Kern was with God, that we were still connected with Pastor Kern through Jesus, and that God will be with us as we continue our journey with Jesus. --I did a wedding blessing for a couple from our congregation. I have two wedding stoles, and was deciding which to wear when it dawned on me: the first stole was given to me by a lady who worked in a church supply store that had been founded by the bride’s parents; and the second stole was one that I had inherited from the groom’s late uncle, a Lutheran pastor.

That was a stunning coincidence—and I ended up wearing one stole during the first half of the service, and the other during the second half. Message? God is at work through all the events of our lives. --This one is not recent—but it’s a good one. When I was a pastor in Albany, I took a trip with a dear friend to Cajun country in Louisiana. I wanted to meet the legendary singer D. L. Menard—“the Cajun Hank Williams”. So my friend and I went to Menard’s hometown of Erath, Louisiana. The sheriff’s department actually helped us locate Menard’s house (“He’s just an old country hick. He’d love to meet you,” said one deputy). Alas, Menard’s mother told us that he was out on a concert tour. So I returned, disappointed, to Albany. Three or four days later, I opened the Albany Times-Union— and saw an announcement that D. L Menard would be performing at Washington Park! So I went to the concert and got to meet D. L. Menard. I told him my story about the trip to Erath. He even dedicated a song to me! The message: Often we expend much effort to attain something—I traveled 1568 miles to try to meet D. L. Menard. Yet our efforts end up in failure. But then God drops in our laps the thing we seek, as a gift! This applies to our salvation: We can try and try to earn God’s love and favor (like Blessed Martin Luther did in the monastery), but our efforts are to no avail. And then we discover that God’s love and forgiveness is a pure gift that we receive through Jesus!

God loves you and so do I!
Pastor David W. Anglin

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