Since I was 15, if you’ve worked with me, dated me, or spent any time with me, especially after a drink, I would have told you one of my favorite stories. I imagine that everybody has at least five stories that they can pull out of their hip pockets to amuse their colleagues and friends.
At 15, I was an extra in the 1989 comedy Uncle Buck, directed by John Hughes. I met him on set during a party scene in a small house located in a northern suburb of Chicago. John Candy starred in the film—I later met him on a break and touched his coat!
During filming, I wore some borrowed black clothing, as instructed, and the wardrobe department gave me an oversized man’s hat. Over several hours of shooting the same scene, John Candy repeatedly walked in front of me, while Hughes and his film equipment stood behind me. In between takes, my fellow high school-aged extras and I would talk with Hughes. He addressed me directly only once when he asked, “Where did you get that hat?” Sure enough, 20 years later, thanks to the magic of Tivo, my friend recorded the movie and located the one frame I am in. In it, you catch a glimpse of my small childish head—I barely looked 15—underneath a large, ugly hat.
Hughes, only 59, died recently from a sudden heart attack. The news of his death spread around the world from every media outlet. This man and the contributions he made to the movie industry and to the lives of a generation were widely recognized and honored. And now my story means even more to me.
Imagine the stories shared in the early days when the church was forming, not only by those in Jesus’ inner circle but by those whose acquaintance with him was more like mine with John Hughes and John Candy. I wonder if people ever tired of hearing all those stories his followers enthusiastically kept wanting to tell, whether they were stories of really knowing Jesus or stories of meeting him once, briefly, and touching his cloak. I’ll bet some of those people’s friends would give them a knowing smile and nod, as if to say, “Yeah, we heard that one already.”
Those stories continue to have an impact on us, even today.
Do you share stories, especially stories of faith? Do you talk about why you are part of Women of the ELCA? What holds you back?
At the risk of being repetitive, go ahead: Tell your favorite Good News story, even if you think you’ve told it before.
Elizabeth McBride is the editor of Café—Stirring the Spirit Within.