I love to read people who understand history and the development of language. A couple of years ago I was struck by a paragraph within an article written by my Fulbright Scholar and Master of Fine Arts educated daughter:
“When I taught literature to high school students on the Micronesian island of Saipan, I began the year with the Anglo-Saxon text of Beowulf. (That juxtaposition was a bit weird all by itself.) I explained to my seniors that the word “weird” stems from an Anglo-Saxon verb meaning “to become.” As a noun: wyrd. Unlike our contemporary version, which is slightly negative, wyrd was positive. It was linked to one’s destiny and meant “supernatural.” Wyrd is an ongoing, continual happening—“that which happens.” (Anna Elkins – from her article, “Toward”, at wordbody.blogspot.com)
My ministry affiliation is within a traditionally Pentecostal denomination. God put me in this family and He has blessed me in so many ways because of that relationship. I listen to conversations within my own church family and outside in similar groups that have journeyed through a hundred-plus years of history since the great Azusa Street Revival. Some groups that started off in that Azusa Street experience have, over the years, defined themselves out of that stream because it seemed too weird and unwieldy.
Like most pastors, I have read through the Bible on numerous occasions. It is filled with lots of very “weird” and unwieldy experiences. Bushes talked. Rocks spouted water. People walked across dry ocean bottoms through standing walls of water. People ate bread that fell from heaven. Ax heads floated on water. Prophets were taken up. The sun stood still. Donkeys spoke. Prayer hankies and shadows brought healing. Spit in the eyes released the miracle of sight. Poisonous snakes were shaken off. Today, similar things are taking place around the world where the Church is actually growing.
In the last few years I have noticed some in the traditional Pentecostal camp are now beginning to repeat a phrase – “We don’t want to get weird.” I understand why that phrase is being used. None of us want man-made or man-produced anything. We want the legitimate and real.
As I look across the traditional Pentecost landscape in the American Church, I am actually seeing very little of the good God-weird stuff taking place. We have become a very manageable crowd. What we actually need to take place in our midst has a hard time getting past our disclaimers and demands about our concern for becoming weird.
What can happen, and may have already taken place, is that we actually begin to shut out the good God-weird experiences when they show up at our doorstep. Maybe, like the Anglo-Saxon definition of the word wyrd, we actually become the Spirit-infused people we were intended to be by experiencing things for which we have no logical explanation. Maybe “weird” is not a destination like many have come to believe, but a process that gets us to where we need to go. Without some element of the wonderfully weird works of God in our midst we will end up living with our own self-crafted image of life and ministry looking back at us in the mirror.
The weird and unexplainable things God does are part of the supernatural journey that actually leads us to our destiny. Like its earlier Anglo-Saxon usage, “wyrd” was something that was supposed to continue to happen and not stop. When it stops happening in our midst is when we actually become weird in a negative sense.
When we construct a verbal fence with statements like, “We don’t want to get weird”, we are actually stumbling ourselves as we walk forward into the fulfillment of our destiny. From my reading of the Bible, I find it filled with wonderfully weird experiences. God used these experiences to jump-start the hope of His people and remind them that He is still in the house.