Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Laughing Jesus

After the 8:30 service on Sunday, Mari stopped me and said -- "I've never heard of anyone saying that Jesus threw back his head and laughed." I was stunned. Mari has had decades of attending worship. On Monday I heard the same thing from Tim, another life long church attendee. We in the church have done a really lousy job of communicating the joy of Jesus.

Yes, it is indeed true that Jesus worked hard -- he spent a lot of time on healing people and speaking -- so much that he would wear himself out and have to go off by himself and rest. Yes, Jesus got himself worked up more than once -- driving the moneychangers out of the temple, and expressing frustration with the disciples on a fairly regular basis. But I think that life around Jesus must have been a whole lot of fun -- and across the years the church has often done what it can to bleed the fun out of life in Christ. Shame on us.

One could argue that the main reason Jesus got killed was for "eating with tax collectors and sinners." Now -- you've gotta believe that such a group really knows how to have a good time (probably a whole lot of pretty good -- albeit off-color -- jokes). In one of the gospels he is called a "glutton and a drunkard." Now I don't think he was one - but I think they couldn't have made this charge unless he was having an awfully good time.

Around Broadway we have a good ol' time. It's not always easy. People in this congregation struggle on a daily basis -- some against illness, some against poverty, some against injustice -- heck some against all of these at the same darn time. And yet there is a lot of laughter. Truly. And we could use to laugh some more. That's my commitment for Lent this year -- to give up being morose!

I think Jesus, when you really think about it, was a person who must have had a lot of laughter around. Think of the feedings of the thousands. When once there was no food -- and now there is an abundance. That laughter should be coming down like a thunderstorm all around them.

Sara Maitland's book about a Joyful Theology challenges me to think that the proper response to life in this world is NOT gratitude (which I have often thought it to be) -- but Joy. I like that. It's not gratitude that God wants as much as joy in the world that we have and our life in one another.

I know that as mom struggled with cancer the last few years of her life...in the midst of those battles she seemed to make a conscious decision to do things that made her happy. I'm not saying she or anyone of this ever get this right...but I hope I can think about that joy -- that joy that I believe was in Jesus -- and find more of a place for it in my life.

I have a lot to be joyful about. Kathy, Conor and Jordan to start. And they give me a lot of reason and opportunity to laugh. And there is the people I'm blessed to work with. And there are the people I worship with. And there are my neighbors and circle of friends. Yes, yes, yes. There is a lot of joy around.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

In My Language

Wow...I just finished watching an 8 minute clip on YouTube entitled In My Language that my friend, Mike Green, recommended to me this past week. It's amazing. It's better than watching the Super Bowl. If you click to it -- please take the time to watch the whole thing, 8 minutes and 35 seconds. It is a woman communicating in her own way with the world around her. She talks about being confined by the way that people put her into a box and say that she is only communicating when she is speaking in language that others can understand. Through the sharing of her story -- and through watching her interact with her world (the first four minutes) and then listening to her explanation (the last four minutes) it helps one (okay, it helped me) see a whole new world. The woman in the video mentions autism as one of the definitions given to people who interact with the world as she does. But it simply makes me aware that we all have are own way. And it is a challenge to me, to look more deeply, to pay more attention to the way each of us see the world and live within it.

Coming out of church today Bob said to me that his doctor had been concerned that his blood pressure was so high. He asked Bob why he thought it was so high. Bob responded that it was because he lived in this world. The way the woman in the video interracts with her world -- seems very healthy -- including making this video to share her story with others. What a gift!