Interim Ministry, Rheumatoid Arthritis

Laughing Jesus

My husband sometimes wonders why we have no stories in which Jesus laughs, and it's one of the things that makes him, serious though he is himself, take Jesus less seriously. How could be be fully anything without laughing? Even the solemn Pure Luck laughs out loud occasionally (especially when people sample Moxie in his presence, right, MB?).

At Y1P, it's traditional that the pastors receive "gifts" culled from the donations to the Pink Pachyderm portion of the Clam Festival, and my colleague now has three year's worth of Jesus-related tributes in his office. One is a laughing Jesus. I tried to find the image on Google and mostly found things that make his laughter terrifying.

But I think a lot of his storytelling must have been based in humor so contextual that we just don't get it, the humor people suffering under oppression share with one another because being humorless ultimately doesn't help. And wouldn't you need a sense of humor to lead those disciples for three years? I suppose I see his humor as dry, more a wink and a nudge than a guffaw.

This morning I'm reflecting on God's sense of humor. I really enjoy Interim Ministry, which of course is all about transitions. But I'm finding, once again, my own transition to be difficult, sad, a little painful. I've left three churches since January 2007. I've learned three new congregations. I'll be with the current one for less than another year. No sooner do I arrive than it's time to update my profile, renew my background check and begin to consider what's next.

Meanwhile at home, I've lived in the same house for 11 years. I've managed to provide stability for my children, who have grown up here and started to grow away, too. I love our quiet street, the trees around our house, the things I see when I get to the corner and turn right or left into the busier world. I wonder how much longer I can continue in this work from this home base?

Since the RA diagnosis last year, I've thought a lot about stress and chronic illness and the relative desirability of more settled employment. I've weighed those things against all the stresses related to a geographic move, and the desire to have my daughter finish school where she started, and the complications of a two household family. I've struggled with the fear that I will run out of possible jobs, although that is probably needless. There are always churches in transition, and I like to think I do this job well.

This morning I'm considering the ways my life seems destined to be at least until LP finishes high school: a string of jobs, a host of new people to learn and fond goodbyes to be said, the continuation of Pure Luck's life on the road for up to half the year, the wondering about what the future will hold. These form a pretty funny spiritual lesson for a mildly anxious gal at midlife who still contemplates her abandonment issues and hates to think of abandoning others. These form a pretty funny lesson in trust.

Do I believe in a laughing Jesus? Maybe he laughs when we finally get the joke.

14 thoughts on “Laughing Jesus”

  1. Anybody who eats and drinks the way Jesus – self-confessedly – does has to laugh. That whole story is supposed to be a joke, of course “We played funerals but you wouldn’t cry; so we played weddings but you wouldn’t dance!”

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  2. Songbird, when my ex and I divorced we agreed that neither of us would locate out of the city we currently reside in, so that both children could graduated high school here with both parents nearby. That meant that I was tethered for my work, and I did two interims back to back (one, 13 months, and one, 20 months). Then there was a long, scary gap (8 months) during which I did pulpit supply and considered such alternatives as substitute teaching, on-air announcer for the local public radio station, and opening my own wine shop.
    In the end, the settled job came along that permitted me to stay in the house in which I’ve now resided for 15 years. But there were some really scary moments when I wondered if I would be able to continue in this work I love so much and to which I still feel called.
    All of which is to say: I know a little of what this feels like, and I am right there with you in all the abandonment stuff that comes up.
    (((Songbird)))

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  3. I think of Jesus as laughing a lot. Madeleine L’Engle talked in one of her Austin books about the Laughing Christ of Baki (which is apparently fictional) and I’ve always thought of that as real.
    I like the funny lesson in trust. 🙂

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  4. I think of Jesus more as smiling contently with kindness in his eyes, as a loving parent will when a child gets something that from the adult’s viewpoint has been obvious all along. And after a while, you get to the point where you can laugh about what all you used to worry about, as you realize that growing in faith is really about growing in trust and that it’s a lifelong journey. And that your wounds contribute to your effectiveness as a healer.

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  5. I think that Jesus laughed. It is my theory that it was such a normal part of who he was that it wasn’t put in. He wept… that was unusual so it’s in there. He laughed…
    See I think that Jesus and the guys walked along sometimes telling jokes..did you hear the one about the pharisee who…
    My daughter Martha says a friend of hers claims to be God’s comedy channel. I think I am too.. I think when things get really chaotic God needs a break and just tunes into my life and says..Ha let’s see what she’s planning today. Look at her running around scared because she doesn’t have the whole road mapped out ahead of her…
    God abide
    bobbie

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  6. Have you heard the gospels TOLD, (as opposed to read?) I got to hear and see the first part of the gospel of Mark by a storyteller. There is a lot of context that a story teller can include through body language and facial expression. It is really funny! And this is the way it was first shared, of course.

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  7. In my less anxious moments, I sometimes find God’s sense of humor in the way he often leads us to the life we would most avoid if allowed to follow our most self-protective instincts. That almost sounds as if I think he plays jokes on us, and that’s not precisely what I mean. Rather, I often feel God’s laughter as the laughter of an amused father, shaking his head over the dither I get myself into because he knows his plans for me and I have such a hard time accepting that there really is one and that ultimately, I will be all right.

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  8. When Jesus wept, it was such a momentous, extraordinary thing, that the disciples recorded it, and the story was told and re-told. But we are never told that Jesus laughed, not because he didn’t, but because he did – often! Laughter and joy, were such an integral part of him that the disciples didn’t think it needed to be remarked upon.

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  9. Zephaniah 3:17 says “The LORD your God is with you,
    he is mighty to save.
    He will take great delight in you,
    he will quiet you with his love,
    he will rejoice over you with singing.” I guess this verse can be interpreted as Jesus laughs… Good post! Thanks anyways!

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