Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Lessons learned from Betty White and the Apostle Paul

| January 6, 2022 1:00 AM

"Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

It saddened me to hear the news. Iconic comedic actress Betty White died a few days ago. Her birthday celebration was to be on Jan. 17. She died just short of her 100th.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed watching Betty on a number of television shows, which included “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Golden Girls.” Her presence made these programs a richer experience for me.

Comedian John Belushi once said that “women are just fundamentally not funny.” I shake my head in disbelief at his declaration. Why would Belushi say these words? There’s simply no way I could agree.

John Belushi died in 1982. It is unfortunate that these are words that I have remembered him by.

I grew up watching the antics of Lucille Ball and Carole Burnett on television. They were comedic superstars and would always bring a smile to my face and repeatedly make me laugh.

For me, Betty White was their equal. She was simply masterful in the way she would deliver her lines from a script. It is one thing to remember to say the right words written for you, but it was another thing to present them in a way that made them even funnier. Betty White had that talent.

On top of this, at any age, she seemed always to be witty, mentally sharp, and genuinely funny (without the aid of a writer). She created her own hilarious lines – quite memorable quips. Betty simply had a way with words.

This week, I watched a brief interview with Betty White from years past. She talked about her marriage to Allen Ludden. I do not recall the exact quote; however, paraphrasing, this is what she conveyed: “I avoid giving little verbal digs to my spouse. Such things have a way of adding up and chipping things away.”

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the Apostle Paul encouraged a Christian community to use the right words. He called for them to lift each other up and give positive support and encouragement.

Words do matter. How they are delivered makes a difference. They add up.

Let us especially practice those that lift each other up.

That way we can laugh together.

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.

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