Sometimes my attempts at humor fall flat. Sometimes they unintentionally offend. Such was the case last month. For that offense, I apologize.
Most of you know that I love movies. One movie that has held a special place in my treasure chest of loved movies is The Princess Bride. Pastor Brenda insists that the book is even better than this delightful movie; I trust her. I like the story because it’s a simple story of adventure and justice and true love. I was in my 20s when the movie came out and I left the theatre feeling like I was 10 years old.
One of the characters in The Princess Bride is Inigo Montoya. His father was a sword maker who was killed by a six-fingered man for whom he had made a masterpiece sword. Inigo swore revenge and spent his young adult life seeking this six-fingered man. From a young age, he knew what he would say when he met the man: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” It is a line that gets repeated throughout the movie.
Last month, along with an article inviting all of us to wear our nametags at worship, I included a “Hello, my name is” sticker – only it was filled out with the rest of the line from the movie (and book). Some people – people who, like me, find the movie delightful – found the graphic quite funny. Others, people who don’t know the movie, were offended. Not knowing the context, I can understand why they thought something like that did not belong in our church newsletter. My mistake was that I thought it was a cultural reference that would be universally known. Wrong.
And so, I offended some people. For that offense, I apologize.
The fact remains that the habit of wearing nametags is a simple act each of us can take to create an atmosphere of welcome. For the person worshiping with us for the first time and for the person who joins us for some activity for the first time, wearing our name tags communicates that we are an open community. For the person who is returning to our community, who has 150 new people to meet and names to learn, it is a helpful act that expresses welcome.
I know that I’m not good about wearing my nametag, but I’m going to work on it. If you catch me without it, I welcome you reminding me to put it on.
As you will read about elsewhere in this news blog, there are several worship services and events that are great opportunities to extend an invitation to friend or neighbor. These include the Second Saturday Documentary on December 12, the Tri-City Youth Chorus Concert on December 13, our Cantata on December 20, the Longest Night Service on December 21, and the Christmas Eve Service on December 24.
Oh, and one more event: We’ll be showing The Princess Bride on Monday, December 28 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. If you haven’t seen it before, or if you want to see it again, I hope you’ll join us. And this, too, is a great opportunity to invite a friend. It’s rated PG.