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From Websters:

One entry found for triskaidekaphobia.
Main Entry: tris·kai·deka·pho·bia
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin, from Greek treiskaideka thirteen (from treis three + kai and + deka ten) + New Latin phobia — more at THREE, TEN
: fear of the number 13


When I was younger I collected old 78 RPM recordings. I wish I had held on to those, but when I moved off to college, my mother and father cleaned house. I guess I forgot to mark some things as “SAVE,” because those old records were sold at auction.

One of the tunes I can recall from that lot was entitled “Triskaidekaphobia” (or “Triscadecaphobia,” the spelling on the album is in question.)  I believe the record was by Les Brown and his orchestra. (I’ve found a remake of the tune on iTunes. It’s covered by Jackie Washington.) On my old platter, the singer was crooning about his fear of the number 13.  He says:

I got triskaidekaphobia,
And triskaidekaphobia
Has got me.

According to the internet, fear of the number “13” can be traced back to medieval times.  There were 13 people at the Last Supper of Jesus, and so people began to fear that number.  Superstition has even claimed that Judas, Christ’s betrayer, was seated thirteenth at that meal.

I think we will be hearing a lot of silly stuff related to triskaidekaphobia in the year ahead.  For example, the Irish are worried that their auto sales will slump.  They use the year of a cars purchase as the first two digits of their license plates.  So, any car purchased next year would have the “unlucky” number “13” leading on the plate.  Their auto executives are pressuring the government to revise the system for fear of flat sales.  The government has incentive, as they fear a loss in tax and registration revenues.

It seems to me that, as we enter in to the year ’13, there are many things for us to fear.  We fear for our safety and that of our children in a world where elementary schools are no longer “gun-free zones.”  We fear for our finances as our government, facing a so-called fiscal cliff, does its best impression of Nero playing fiddle whilst Rome burned.  We fear for our future in a world aflame with turmoil and filled with those whose weapon of choice is terror.  In the darkness of those harsh realities, panic over a silly number seems absurd.

In the light of Scripture, though, have we ground on which to be afraid?  Most of us are familiar with David’s 23rd Psalm, wherein we read, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  We also note Psalm 27:1 which reminds us; “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”

New Years is a good time to be reminded that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  The last paragraph of Romans, chapter 8 is great reading in those times when one is afraid.  Finally, we have these words from Paul to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

The last verse of that old song I’m remembering says this:

I’ll be living in utopia
In a glorious utopia
If triskaidekaphobia
Sets me free.

Praise God that Christ has set us free!   The year 2013 may, or may not, contain people or events which we dislike, but we need not fear them.  Instead, claim God’s Spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.  More of those things would be great for us all.

Praying that your faith overwhelms your fears in this New Year,

Pastor Clint

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