Tall, Skim, Mute Latte

My lovely Bride had a hankerin’ for some designer java one morning, so I obliged her by running to the local coffee shop and picking up her fave. I didn’t want to make any mistakes, so I handed her a piece of paper and a pen and asked her to write it down for me. She did so, and I was on my way with her written request—tall, skim, pumpkin spice latte without whip.

When I arrived at the brew center, the fifteen people behind the counter (possibly a slight exaggeration) were busy yucking it up and talking with one another. I stood there silently (and a bit impatiently) as they ignored me. Finally, one young gal realized I had been waiting a while and asked if I had been helped. I simply shook my head, no, and another youthful lady, who noticed what was going on, stepped up to the register and asked for my order.

Since I had the paper with my spouse’s request in my hand, I held it up in front of the barista’s face. She took it, read it, and told me the price. I inserted my credit card into the little money-sucking machine, and she began to complete my order.

The Moment of Truth

Then, the moment of truth arrived. This was the point at which the barista was to ask for my name so it could be written on the paper cup. As she asked, she handed back my wife’s note with a pen and asked, “What’s your name?” I smiled to myself because, up to that point, I hadn’t uttered a word since entering the tiny establishment. She obviously thought I was mute. You should have seen the look of surprise on her face when I uttered the word, “Dave.”

There’s an old saying that goes, “When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.” This young woman was assuming a lot based on my quietude over a few seconds. There was no ass in this situation (although I’ve been called one often), but I’m guessing she may have felt like one. It was merely funny to me. I actually enjoyed the moment. When you get to my age, you have to take your little pleasures wherever you can find them.

The Real Ass

The real “ass” of history is probably Judas Iscariot. Popular opinion postulates that he assumed he could force Jesus’ hand if he turned his Lord over to the authorities. He may have assumed that Jesus, if backed into a corner, would rise up and lead a revolt against Rome. If that was the case, how wrong he was. I’m glad I wasn’t there to see the surprise on his face when none of that took place.

I guess we’re all going to assume things at one time or another. It seems to be a part of the human condition. Just remember, however, not to hand me a pen when I’m quiet. I may write a lot, but I don’t say much.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Please Don’t Step Here!

Recently, I was conducting a wedding rehearsal in a very timeworn restaurant where I noticed a sign on the staircase that read, “Watch your step. This is an old building.”

I didn’t think much of that until I climbed the steps, looked around, and saw another sign. It was on a pedestal that had a third sign that emphatically said, “Please don’t remove!”

The second sign to which I’m referring said, “Please Don’t Step Here!” (Emphasis theirs…) We were on the second floor, so (quite naturally) it made me a tad nervous. I became rather curious as to why the pedestal should not be moved and the spot not stepped upon, but frankly, I was afraid to ask. Sometimes it’s better not to know.

No One Fell Through the Floor

The rehearsal went okay, and no one fell through the floor. I don’t mind telling you, however, that when I had the entire wedding party on one spot, I was eager to get everything over with.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to have recurring nightmares about moving the pedestal and having all the folks stand on the forbidden spot. The evilest thoughts in my mind seem to find their way into my dreams—probably a sign in itself.

Signs can be a big deal. Sometimes they are to be unequivocally obeyed. At other times, they are to be explored. They should probably never be totally ignored. I chose not to ignore nor explore the “Please Don’t Step Here” sign for what I hope are obvious reasons. To obey seemed like the logical choice in that situation.

There was an occasion on which Jesus became annoyed with the Pharisees because they were not paying attention to the signs. He chided them because they seemed to be good at reading the weather portents—red skies at night, overcast skies in the morning—but they couldn’t read the signals he was sending them. He told them they would be given no more signs except for the “sign of Jonah.” Then he left them. At that point, they probably had no clue as to what he was referring.

The Sign of Jonah

Our best guess is that Jesus was pointing ahead to his resurrection. Like Jonah who was rescued from the belly of the fish in three days, so too, Jesus would be resurrected on the third day. I’m sure he understood that these Pharisees would not recognize that as a sign of his Messianic role either. Blinded eyes are blinded eyes. Unless they are miraculously opened, they will not see.

Jesus performed all kinds of miracles in the presence of the Pharisees—and everyone else for that matter. He healed physical maladies, cast out demons, and even raised some people from the dead. He wasn’t about to appease these doctors of hypocrisy with a special “magic trick” that they would ultimately explain away. He knew it would be futile, not to mention tempting God.

We need to pay special attention to his signs and wonders. In the meantime, “Please Don’t Step Here!”

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]