Thursday 4 April 2013

It's funny. Really.

So it turns out there's a Holy Humour Sunday.  It's often the first Sunday after Easter.

Wow, who knew the church had a sense of humour.

Well, lots of people.  

When the children in our church go to their own program after worshipping with the adults on Sunday morning, they begin with a story and a prayer.  And each of them gets to add what they'd like to pray for at the end of it.  Their additions are always awesome, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but always with the honesty and sincerity of a child.  One week, one of them thoughtfully prayed "thank you God for making Robin funny and not boring."  Although I'm sure some people would disagree, I'd like to thank God for that, too.

Maybe it just seems like "church" has no sense of humour sometimes because we're looking at the institution and not the people.  Just like people sometimes seem to think they know what church is all about even though they've never been.  "Church" has a lot of baggage, both for itself and for those that have no real experience of it.

Maybe it's because people so often find themselves at church in times of need.  And there's not really any funny in that.  But maybe that's part of the problem.

Maybe we're confusing a sense of humour - the universal giving of  joy, laughter and light-heartedness - with what we, personally, have judged to be funny.  Or not.  Or disrespectful.  Or not.

It's funny, really, that we're often just as judgemental about how we communicate the message of God's love as we are about how people are living it out.  Or not.

High tech, multi media, bands, even informality and certainly humour, are often polarizing issues in worship.  Somehow these things challenge the "sacredness" of worship.  But why?  They're just style, aren't they?  Not a style for everyone, certainly, but sitting in pews, singing hymns and reading from the King James' version of the Bible isn't either.  On Pentecost, the story goes, everyone around the disciples heard them speaking in their own languages.  Isn't that really what we're seeking, a way to communicate the message that speaks to people in a way that they find most meaningful?

I think so.  And I think it's the "church," however you know it or understand it, that needs to work on that.  But …
Relationships always have more than one participant.  And it's everyone's job to apply discernment at every turn.  If there's not a truth, a learning or a message to be discerned, then it's just entertainment.  We should wonder, ask, question, even doubt, in discerning what is true in communicating the message of God's love.

Humour or not, the Sunday after Easter also brings us the story of Thomas, the classic "doubter."  Thomas has had a bad rap for a long time as the one who didn't believe.  But I think that's undeserved.  In fact, I think Thomas is a great example of the importance of questions, of expressing our doubts and fears.  I think Thomas was just trying to be discerning.  Faith isn't about believing without question, it's about believing enough to question more, to seek deeper truth and find deeper love.