A priest, an evangelist, and a minister were in a row boat in the middle of a pond fishing. None of them had caught anything all morning.
Then the evangelist stands up and says he needs to go to the bathroom, so he climbs out of the boat and walks on the water to shore. He comes back ten minutes later the same way.
Then the minister decides she needs to go to the bathroom, too, so she climbs out of the boat and walks on the water to shore. She, too, comes back the same way ten minutes later.
The priest looks at both of them and decides that his faith is just as strong as his fishing buddies and that he can walk on water, too. He stands up and excuses himself. As he steps out, he makes a big splash down into the water.
The evangelist looks at the minister and says, “I suppose we should have told him where the rocks were.”
I heard again this week that no one would want to be a Christian, because they are always serious and they all like suffering. What an image we have in the world. It is not a biblical image. In Ecclesiastes, we hear that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh! Jesus was a man who taught at table and was accused of being a glutton and drunk – having a good time, enjoying life while teaching others. In Philippians, Paul wants our joy completed. And Galatians reminds of how much we mean to God! Even some of the most seemingly dour church foreparents knew the joy of laughter. John Chrysostom said that “laughter has been implanted in our souls;
Martin Luther said that “You have as much laughter as you have faith.” Francis De Sales remarked that “humor is a foundation for reconciliation.” Wesley wrote that “A sour religion is the devil’s religion.” GK Chesterton commented that “A good joke is the closest thing we have to divine revelation.” Bonhoeffer penned that “Ultimate seriousness is not without a dose of humor.” And great theologian, Charles Schultz, developer of the Peanuts cartoon said: “Humor is proof that everything is going to be alright with God nevertheless.”
God is the source of all of our joy and laughter. And our God is a god of joy and laughter – who invites us into the celebration of the creation with jokes and humor. God wants our joy to come from deepest and truest places. The joy of the resurrection is based on the reversal of expectations. Much in the way that humor comes from what we did not expect. A joke is a good joke, when it catches us off guard or doesn’t end the way we imagine. It is the jokes that we anticipate that we groan at, instead of laugh. It is God’s greatest joy that we know joy in Christ.
Humor corrects us and connects us. It breaks down walls that divide us and brings us together when we might be pushed apart. If we are willing to laugh at ourselves occasionally, we find abandon and freedom. We find ease in the everyday.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu tells a story in the book, The Book of Joy: Happiness in a Changing World about the days in Johannesburg during apartheid when there were lots of funerals from death by police, much unrest, and many hundreds of people gathered. There were no official political rallies allowed, under this state of emergency, but people gathered to remember loved ones. There was anger and direction was needed, particularly re-direction. The Archbishop knew laughter, especially self-deprecating humor, would direct these energies in a positive direction.
So, he remembered this story about creation. God molded us out of clay and put us in the kiln, like you do with bricks and after a while he remembered. He rushed to the kiln and the whole lot was burned to ciders. This how black people came out. Everyone laughed a little. Then he put in the second batch. And a little over anxious, he opened the oven too quickly, and white people came out. A cackle went out across the group. Humor defused some of the pointedness in that moment.
The Archbishop took that wisdom when he was asked to speak in Rwanda after the genocide with Hutus and Tutsis. Using humor, he used his own self-deprecating sense of his large nose to create a foil. He created a story about large nosed people and small nosed people. He shared how the large nosed people were excluding the small nosed people. Laughter and cackles fill the room at first. Those gathered then became aware that the Archbishop was referring to their own behaviors in a nonthreatening manner. This was not making fun of one group over another. This is the ridiculousness of prejudice and hatred when it divides us. Humor allows us to see truths we might not usually see. We become unarmed and are able to hear differently.
Much of laughter’s positive effect can be traced to the physical healing researchers have found. Laughter reduces your heart rates and stabilizes blood pressure, increases immunity, changes the effectiveness of medicine, and much more. An arthritis clinic in Tasmania, Australia, introduced a pilot laughter-therapy program during which patients had to arrive at each session with a new joke. They soon discovered all their patients reported a reduction in pain and anxiety and some were even able to‑reduce their dependency on pain-relieving drugs. To emphasize the point, Heather Donaldson, who conducted the study, presented her evidence to the annual meeting of the Australian Rheumatology Association in Adelaide while wearing a curly orange wig and rubber chicken feet. (1) Imagine your doctor greeting you that way!
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. As Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he could not help but encourage them with joy. This is what unites us, he says. There is much that can and does divide us. This is what causes us to look in different way, to look in different directions. Paul doesn’t talk directly about the divisions; rather, he sings about the glory of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t focus on our differences, he focuses upon what we have most in common – God for us, all of us, loved, saved together, in Jesus Christ. Paul is bold to tell this divided congregation, “Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus.” Paul tells them that he wants them to inculcate the spirit of Christ, to think like Christ thinks, to do what Christ did and what Christ does.
Paul wants us to share the joy of Christ, then and now. How can we cultivate of greatest joy of Christ? God’s greatest joy is delight in you! We, too are equipped to share the joy and love of Christ. Where is God calling you in the midst of some of the inevitable struggles of life to share humor? Our common humanity, our siblinghood in Christ Jesus unites us more fully that anything else divides us.
An elderly lady was well-known for her faith and for her boldness in talking about it. She would stand on her front porch and shout “PRAISE THE LORD!”
Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, “There ain’t no Lord!!”
Hard times set in on the elderly lady, and she prayed for GOD to send her some assistance. She stood on her porch and shouted “PRAISE THE LORD. GOD I NEED FOOD!! I AM HAVING A HARD TIME. PLEASE LORD, SEND ME SOME GROCERIES!!”
The next morning the lady went out on her porch and noted a large bag of groceries and shouted, “PRAISE THE LORD.”
The neighbor jumped from behind a bush and said, “Aha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn’t.”
The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and said, “PRAISE THE LORD. He not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them. Praise the Lord!”
Our God reverses and turns upside down expectations and even limited thinking! May you know the greatest joy in the gift of Jesus and then share that your overwhelming joy we have in Jesusl
This is the gospel of our Lord Jesus, thanks be to God, Amen. (1) https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/16404/Laughter-is-the-best-medicine
New Testament Lesson: Galatians 4:4-7
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
New Testament Lesson: Philippians 2:1-11
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Meditations For Your Week
Sunday, January 27 ~ Saturday, February 2
Sunday: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.” Galatians 4:4-5. Where is God calling you to share the delight of God’s greatest joy?
Monday: “And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” Galatians 4:6. Consider that God has given us all we need for prayer. Be not afraid. Call out to God in prayer!
Tuesday: “So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.” Galatians 4:7. Give thanks to God for the gift of inheritance through Jesus!
Wednesday: “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2. Unity in the Spirit comes compassion and love. Pray for the local church and global church to have the mind of Christ and unity through the Holy Spirit.
Thursday: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4. Humility is not thinking less of yourself. Humility is thinking of yourself less. Where is God calling you to care for others?
Friday: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 2: 5. Pray for the mind of Christ Jesus as you seek joy today.
Saturday: “So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2: 10-11. Is Jesus at the center of your life? When you place Jesus at the center of your life, you find joy in sharing Jesus with others.