|Humorous endings. . .My Big Fat Greek Church Family
I went to a Wedding and found a new hero.
-- by Greg Asimakoupoulos
|Can’t you see it? In addition to a set of Kittel and a big fat Greek lexicon, seminary bookstores will son be stocking economy-size bottles of Windex. Windex? Yep. If you can believe Hollywood, Windex may be what every pastor needs.
Inspired by the smash movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I think I’ll stock up on a case of Gus Portokalos’s universal cure-all. If Windex worked for Gus, maybe it’ll take care of the panes in my ministry. Gus thought a spray or two of the blue liquid would deodorize foul air, heal an injured finger, or get rid of a zit.
I haven’t yet tried it on a certain deacon’s fingers that are always poking where they don’t belong, but I will. And I know a couple of zits I’d like to spritz. I’m also wondering if a well-aimed squirt will render Mrs. Talksalot mute for a month or two.
Gus is my new ministry hero.
Like John MacArthur and David Jeremiah, the patriarch of the Portokalos clan believes that every word in our English vocabulary is best understood by examining its Greek origin.
I knew the family in the movie was like my own Greek family (Asimakoupoulos, remember?), but I’ve been surprised to learn how much they’re like my big fat church family. Watching Gus has taught me a few tricks I’ll try next Sunday.
In spite of my ethnic background I’ve always been reluctant to incorporate koine into my preaching, but Gus has given me courage to try. When I call for the ushers to take the offering, I think I’ll explain that “in the Greek,” the word “offering” means “give till it hurts.”
And whereas we normally respond to the choir’s anthem with a loud and unison “amen,” I’ll invite the congregations to stand, throw a hand into the air, and shout “Opa!” (In the Greek, “Opa!” like Windex, covers a multitude of sins and occasions.)
I haven’t yet convinced the deacons to support serving Turkish coffee and baklava during the fellowship hour. But I’ll keep trying.
Feta and family
Okay, maybe I’m a little over the top. I admit that. But, I’ll also admit that my church is a whole lot like a BFG family. Let me explain.
The one who’s in charge may not appear to be in charge. Gus was the head of the family, but as his wife said, she was the neck. “The neck can turn the head in any direction she wants,” mother explained to daughter. There are definitely several in my church whose role in the Body is to be the neck.
Everybody has an opinion. Demetri, Lula,Sophie,Eftie,Voula, Vassiliki, Marcos, Papouli, and Ya Ya are strong-willed but wonderful people. Isn’t that the way it is with those who call you “pastor” (from the Greek, poimen, meaning “shepherd”)? We argue on occasion, but we laugh and cry more often.
At times I feel like I can’t live with my big fat church family, only to realize upon reflection that I can’t live without them.
Our customs appear odd to outsiders. Like the Portokalos family, the church has traditions that outsiders don’t understand, at least not at first. We speak a different language. We appreciate ancient practices. Not everything is “Greek” to visitors, but often they are clueless about the Lord’s Supper of baptism or propitiation. If only Christianity were as simple as the dance steps to Kalamatiano.
We welcome newcomers to the family. Okay, here we’re a lot like the Portokalos family. Sometimes it takes a while, and we really need to work at it, but we can make people feel at home with our family. Toula’s very WASPy fiancé found in her BFG family lots of love and hugs. And he learned to appreciate the lamb.
We celebrate transformation. When Gus’ ugly duckling daughter realized she was loved (despite being less than perfect) she experienced a metamorphosis (from the Greek meaning “to change physical structure by supernatural means”). Toula became a beautiful woman because of the new way someone perceived her. My church really loves it when metamorphosis happens.
Just how Greek am I? I won’t lead a charge to plant the Greek flag in front of the church of build Corinthian columns on the porch, but the next time I’m blessed by the music or the sermon, I may just shout “Opa!”
This article appeared in the Mustard Seed Quarterly, Volume 12, Issue 3, a publication of St. Gregory the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church of Mansfield, Massachusetts, 1007 West Street, PO Box 293, Mansfield, MA 02048