Saturday, September 17, 2005

Humor, laughter, squirming and the Word of God...

I know of many people who, when under stress or worrying, will crack a joke. Soldiers in combat zones crack jokes to relieve the tension in the war zone, we do it at work all the time... It seems like everyone, everywhere is cracking jokes. I'm assuming that this either means that people are just having a good time, or, then are under so much stress that they are cracking jokes a mile a minute.

A sense of humor is important. But shouldn't there be a time and place for cracking Jokes? Like at work, for instance, there's this old man who comes into the store every day, and says the same stupid thing: "it's about time you did something". The first couple of times, this was funny, but after about 1000 times, it's starting to really get on my nerves. But since this guy is a customer, we just let it go.

Jesus has a sense of Humor. Take this little episode...

Lk 9:54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them ?"
Lk 9:55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them...

I highlighted the names, James and John, because they are mentioned in Mark with the nick name, "son's of thunder", or Boanerges.

Mk 3:17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder)

Now, why would he give them a name like that? I can't help but laugh at that.

On the TV sitcom, M*A*S*H*, the doctors often cracked jokes to help deal with the the attrocities they witnessed on a daily basis. The stress and agitation, the bickering amongst themselves, they practical jokes played... all were to help deaden the pain of living in a war zone. That's a natural tendency of people, to cover up pain with a joke. They did it, "just to survive".

But, there is one thing lately that's been bothering me. People making jokes in church. Pastors telling the latest joke they recieved off the internet in thier sermons, members replacing the "offensive" commercials in the superbowl for a "football night at church" with videos of people falling and getting hurt, and the whole group just roaring and howling with laughter. And it's not that I'm offended by that, but rather... what are they covering up with thier jokes? Are they using them to help get through stressful moments during the service? When certain passages hit thier mark and the people are feeling particularly convicted, are they cracking jokes "just to survive"? Are they maybe covering up a guilty conscience? Are they trying to direct thier attention away from the conviction that comes when God's word is read to the congregation? Are they just having a good time?


Shelley said...

I think a lot of the time it is simply just to lighten the mood. Some people just get so darned serious about things all the time. There is nothing wrong in my opinion with the pastor telling a joke before, during or after his sermon...providing it isn't racey or raunchy. Sometimes the jokes are used to drive a point home in the sermon. Sometimes it's just to tell people to lighten up a little and not to be serious all the time. Yes, there is a time and place for a joke but I don't think there is anything wrong with them provided it isn't the wrong time. Hope that made sense.

the big test

Since someone, somewhere, has seen fit to deprive the world of Issues etc and take a huge bite out of confessional Lutheranism at the same time, I will not take up the mantle of working to see that those who did it answer for their actions.
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