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RELIGION: Be witness!

May 12, 2021 at 5:25 a.m.

A Gentile Greek physician wrote two of the important books of the New Testament -- the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.

In the introduction to the Gospel of Luke, he wrote that his information came from the living witness of Jesus' life and ministry and that he undertook the responsibility of recording the witness' accounts for Theophilus. There has been debate through the ages about the identity of Theophilus. I think Theophilus could have been a member of Luke's family and the books were intended to be Luke's spiritual legacy for those he dearly loved.

I was touched last May when the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette did a series of interviews with the members of the area high school senior classes of 2020. One girl spoke of how much 9/11/2001, influenced America, but she had no memory of the events because she had just turned one. She had to rely on the witnesses of her parents, her teachers and the media.

On 9/11/2001, I was the rector of a parish in Corpus Christi, Texas. That evening, our church was filled with people! A short time later two young men, Marine Corps Reservists and members of our church were called up with their company and ordered to Iraq. On their last Sunday with us, we followed a popular social custom and had each of them tie a yellow ribbon around an old mesquite tree (we had no oaks on our campus.)

Several months later we had to untie one of the ribbons and place it on the grave of Lance Corporal Zak Kolda. He came home. Jesus wept and so did we. His best friend, Lance Corporal Luke Iverson came home and took down his yellow ribbon. He was a witness. It was hard for him to tell us the story, but he did.

A political cartoon appeared in the April 23 edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The drawing was of a large oak tree with a yellow ribbon tied around the middle of the trunk. It had been there so long it had severely restricted the growth in that part of the tree. The caption quoted the president's announcement about withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan, "It's time for American troops to come home."

I enjoy listening to National Public Radio. A recent program was about a twelfth-grade English assignment that was so successful that it quickly spread across the country and is being used in a variety of other disciplines. The teacher's concern was that in 20 years, the covid 19 experience might only be vaguely remembered and therefore difficult to pass on to future generations.

The teacher wanted her students to dig down deep and touch the searing pain some of them were experiencing and then use their imaginations and energies to be their individual witnesses of the impact of covid 19. It could have been a poem, a short story, an essay, a song, a dance, a painting, a sculpture, a play, a video, or other.

I listened to some of the students' presentations from across our country. An example was of a Hawaiian girl that combined her culture and a song she created and sang while playing her ukulele. I need more Kleenex.

Have you wondered what you might want to tell others about the covid 19 experience? Why should high school students have all the fun and experience the joy that comes from being a witness?

The covid-19 pandemic is not over! I received my two shots over a month ago and I feel so hopeful about our tomorrows! So can you!

• • •

Ken Parks is the former rector of St. Theodore's Episcopal Church in Bella Vista. He can be reached by email at [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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