The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

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Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Advent ...

I have always been fascinated with UFOs, likely due to a massive number of hours spent watching “The Twilight Zone,” “The Outer Limits” and other such shows as a youngster.

I had a pretty good imagination about such things and can even recall running home and telling my parents I had seen a flying saucer in broad daylight.

It was probably a weather balloon.

I have lots of memories associated with looking into the sky.

There’s this memory of my sister, Sheree, pointing into the night sky from a window at my grandparents’ house, explaining the word “satellite” to me. Was she explaining the moon as a satellite, or something NASA sent into space? My memory is not that good …

But there are also some pretty strange memories of seeing things in the sky that were neither UFOs, nor satellites.

The year was 1968 and my mother, her second husband, Jim, my sister Sheree and I were camping on Cocoa Beach near Cape Canaveral Pier.

Calling it camping was something of a stretch, since all we had was a car and blankets.

And it was probably less out of a sense of adventure than it was not having money for a motel room, but still wanting to be at the beach.

Sometime during the night we could see an orange glow on the ocean’s horizon. The glow was slowly growing larger … it may have been minutes … it may have been an hour … and we were mesmerized.

“What is it?” Sheree and I asked.

We were getting scared and feared some apocalyptic event was at hand, even asking each other, “Is the world coming to an end?”

Jim and my mother seemed baffled as well.

We watched people strolling along the beach and it seemed they were unaware of this fantastic sight, paying no attention whatsoever. The strollers’ indifference to the obvious made it even more ‘Twilight-Zonish.’

It seemed an eternity before we realized the glow was simply the rising of a harvest moon.

We felt quite foolish.

I still look to the sky in expectation.

Perhaps it’s because I never know what I’ll see.

It was Christmas Eve 1975 that I saw the most awesome cosmic event in my life to date.

I was stationed with the training squadron VA-174 at Cecil Field, Florida, and had been assigned line watch that night.

The watch zones were configured in intersecting circles so that three or four of us would meet up every once in a while. We would chat for several minutes and then continue on walking the watch perimeter.
It was sometime early Christmas morning when one of us pointed to the star-studded sky, asking, “What in the world is that?”

We all looked in the same direction to see a fiery object moving quickly toward us — and the airfield — on what appeared to be slightly less than a 45-degree angle.

It was growing larger and larger, coming closer and closer, until it appeared it was going to crash onto the flight line.

The watchmen scattered away from the flight line — that is, all except for me.

Like the orange glow on the horizon at Cocoa Beach, I stood mesmerized and watched the fiery ball flatten like a beam in a laser light show. It appeared to somehow bounce off of some unseen shield, streaking away in the opposite direction.

The sky was filled with falling stars for quite some time.

All I could say was, “Wow …”

There was a brief in a newspaper a day or two later that noted others had seen the same sight.

It reminds me of a song by Larry Norman, the grandfather of modern Christian rock. It’s called “U.F.O.”:

“He’s an unidentified flying object.
You will see Him in the air.
He’s an unidentified flying object.
You will drop your hands and stare.
You will be afraid to tell your neighbor.
He might think that it’s not true.
But when they open up the morning paper.
You will know they’ve seen Him too.”

We are ending the first of four weeks of Advent, the name for which is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” During this season, we celebrate the coming of Christ — his birth, his continual coming in Word and Spirit, and whose final coming in victory we anticipate.

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus tells us, “Keep awake, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”

The Spirit within me watches for his “coming” in many ways — the faces of the congregation as they lift someone in prayer, the actions of those engaged in social justice, the glow on the face of a newly baptized believer, and the sharing of the bread and cup during Holy Communion. There are many other “comings” as well, and I watch for his coming in unexpected places … including the sky.

What about you?

Grace and peace ...