Two girls were speaking about church:
First girl: "My pastor said we could have 16 husbands."
Second girl: "Are you sure?"
First girl: "Yes. At the last wedding at the church I heard him say, four better, four worse, four richer and four poorer.
Two Connecticut College psychologists asked thirty couples to rate the humor in twenty-five jokes, cartoons, and comic strips. The study showed that couples who agree on what’s funny are more likely to like, love, and want to marry each other than those who didn’t laugh at the same things…
(Murstein, Brust) (Cited in Bernard Asbell with Karen Wynn, WHAT THEY KNOW ABOUT YOU, New York: Random House, 1991, p. 202)
Joan Chittister says:
God made laughter to show us that things are seldom as bad as they seem. Laughter liberates and laughter uplifts. When laughter comes into a life, nothing is too difficult, nothing can defeat us.
She continues: There are some things that must always be laughed at in life:
1. Laugh when people tell a joke. Otherwise you might make them feel bad.
2. Laugh when you look into a mirror. Otherwise you might feel bad.
3. Laugh when you make a mistake. If you don't, you're liable to forget how ultimately unimportant the whole thing really is, whatever it is.
4. Laugh at situations that are out of your control. Like when you find yourself in public wearing mismatched shoes.
5. Finally, laugh when all your carefully laid plans get changed: when the plane is late and the restaurant is closed…You’re free now to do something else, to be spontaneous for a change, to take a piece of life and treat it with outrageous abandon.
And laugh when your mother asks you to do something about the lack of wine at the wedding. Often people interpret this line in John’s gospel when Mary asks Jesus to do something, and he responds Woman, what concern is that to me?, People interpret this as if Jesus is being short or harsh with his mother. But it is also possible that Mary and Jesus are being playful, like many families are with one another when there is an inside joke in family or between family members.
Jesus may have been playful with Mary and her with him. Why not? It’s possible. The written word so seldom expresses the emotion behind the word. So it’s possible that this is really a playful time.
Mary has every reason to be certain that Jesus will do what she asks, she goes on to tell the wine stewards to do what ever he asks. She knows what he is about to do, she is confident that he will do it.
And, of course Jesus does exactly what she expects. He fills the water jars with an abundance of wine. And not just any wine, excellent wine, the best wine. An abundance of the very best.
This playfulness between Mary and Jesus gives us a hint into the nature of God and humanity, of the divine and the ordinary. I think God is playful with creation, that creation has within its being a playful nature. Sometimes, often times we humans are far too serious. God calls us to be playful and we take God seriously…
So, what might this playfulness look like? How about some of the creatures on this earth, like a rhinoceros or a platypus? There’s a sense of humor. What about blizzards and snow storms and deep cold weather, there’s a sense of humor, reminding us that we really do not have much control over the weather or this world. Reminding us to laugh at ourselves when we get too full of ourselves. What about having a conversation with our children. Kids are naturally fun loving and bring out our playfulness. I urge each of you to come to the meeting about the results of the survey we took in April. I encourage you to meet with the vestry members and reflect on how we see ourselves, and I hope you will do so with both a sense of seriousness, and a sense of humor. If we can’t find a way to laugh at ourselves now, when will we?
Jesus is playful with his mother, why not? Why not think about the ways in which we too can be playful? If we get too bogged down with heaviness, worry, and concern, we will limit our ability to see God’s creativity in our lives and world, we will limit our ability to laugh and see the joy in our lives.
I suggest that part of our discerning time in the weeks ahead include some time for fun and laughter. It may seem odd, but I think its right. Laugh at ourselves and the ways we have been stifling the spirit from our fears or anxiety. Laugh at ourselves because we fail to trust God. Let’s be playful with one another like family, like Jesus and Mary.
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