There is a rumour running around that God made people because she loves to laugh. There are some who are not lifted up by the idea of God laughing at us, or even with us. Equating, perhaps, laughter with mockery and disrespect it is difficult to come before a mirth-filled Creator at the Altar of worship. I think we might sometimes take ourselves a bit too seriously. A trait one hopes not shared by the God that holds us beloved
This Sunday coming is celebrated in some Christian churches as “Holy Humour Sunday”. Stemming from traditions in the early Greek church when the week after Easter Sunday saw Christians getting together for picnics and parties and practical jokes leading up to “Bright” Sunday (the Sunday after Easter) to celebrate their joy that Jesus lived, that death had no power over life. Early Christian writers mused that God had played a joke on Satan, while ordinary folk would say, “The joke is on the devil, Jesus lives!”
We’ve begun our services with a call to worship appropriate to the occasion:
“Preacher: People of God! Did you hear about the lowest bid contractor who diluted the paint three times before applying a coat to the church steeple?
People of God: No, what happened?
Preacher: The first rain washed the steeple clean!
People of God: What happened then?
Preacher: The minister called the contractor into the church and gave him a stern talking to. Then sent him away saying….
People of God: What did he say?
Preacher: Repaint, and thin no more!
People of God: Groan….”
A lot of truths are communicated in humour. A lot of lessons contained in joy.
“What do Baptists say to one another in the liquor store?”
“Nothing, Baptists don’t recognize one another in the liquor store!”
There’s the story about the man on the search committee who refused to accept the rest of the committee’s recommendation for a new minister. Long after the appointment and acceptance by the rest of the congregation he continued to mumble and mutter and dissent and disrupt. Finally the Board decided they should take him and the new minster fishing, get them out on the lake in a boat and build relationship. Once out and anchored they realized they’d left lunch on the dock.
“Don’t worry about it,” the new minister said, “I’ll get it.” She jumped out, skipped across the water, picked up the basket and was on her way back to the boat before anyone could say anything. Except for her detractor. He sniffed, sneered and said:
“See, told you she was no good. Woman can’t even swim!”
A truth born equally by many women in ministry. Or women leading us through health care crisis. Or women speaking out about harms to their children meted out by our approach to ‘illegal’ drugs.
In the season of Easter, Christians do well to remember that God teaches us through laughter, takes great joy in our learning, loves us into wholeness and never, ever, lets us go. For all who think there is such a thing as ending, such a time as ‘over’, such a state of being as dead and done, let us take a lesson from our earliest Christian forebears. Let us laugh out loud as we remember Christ’s teaching: Nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God. Nothing.
The joke is on the Devil. Jesus is alive!
Keith Simmonds is in ministry at Duncan United Church, where folk are engaged in seeking justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with the Creator. He blogs at faithfulwitness.xy
You can read more articles on our interfsith blog, Spiritually Speaking HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday April 10th 2021