PAM: Does God laugh? Did Jesus have a sense of humor?  What do they think is funny? Do they laugh when you fall on your face? You and your friends laugh out of embarrassment.  Do they laugh sneeringly in an “I’ll get you” manner? Do they laugh in a raucous belly-laugh at something outrageous?  Or do they laugh at miraculous great joy? For that matter did you ever read a Bible passage when Jesus laughed? Mirth, that lightheaded spirit that gives rise to laughter, seems entirely absent in the gospels.

While Jesus seems always portrayed as dour and serious, there are times that record Jesus’ joy. But according to several authors, joy is not the same as mirth or laughter! If we are created in God’s image, both Jesus and we must have a sense of humor. Perhaps finding the humor is one of the contextual things we need to understand. For example, think of the incongruous image of a camel going through the eye of a needle! “…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (NIV Matthew 19:24). It requires that the reader know what a camel is and how big it is and what an eye of a needle is.  I do know those things, so I can smile at the statement. Certainly, Jesus’ listeners knew those things also; and they must have laughed or at least smiled.

But details on any lighter moments of happiness Jesus experienced and shared with others are largely absent from the gospels. Perhaps this is because the holiest things are the most hidden. God’s own interior mirth, His sheer delight in being is too wondrous a thing for the naked human eye to see. In looking at the gospels directly, the brilliance of God’s smile is obscured to us. Does Jesus ever laugh? Rest assured He must. But it’s something that’s veiled to us in this life. For now, may we delight in the traces of divine mirth left for us in the Old Testament.  (Stephen Beale, Catholic Exchange, November 13, 2017)

PASTOR: Since this issue is a double issue of Connections, Pam and I thought we’d have a little fun with humor in the Bible. There are many places in the Gospels where miracles occur.  Think of the image of Jesus feeding 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish?  I thought I’d share a version of the story just for fun!     (Note: this reimagined story involves a dialogue between the narrator and an unnamed individual. The unnamed individual’s dialogue is italicized and the narrator’s dialogue is bold italicized.)

Jesus was having a bad day.  Wait Jesus was having a bad day… but he’s Jesus?  Yeah, Jesus can have a bad day if he wants to, just pay attentionAnyway, Jesus was having a bad day.  So, he goes off to a deserted place.  I LOVE desserts! Not desserts!  DESERTS, d e s e r t s.  Sometimes when someone has a bad day, they need time away, a place to clear their head… well Jesus was no exception.  The problem here is that Jesus is kind of a rock star, and everyone wanted his autograph.  So, it is very hard for him to have alone time.  Even though Jesus was very tired, and very sad, he still had compassion for all the people who followed him into a deserted place.  I bet that was something… I once followed the Grateful Dead into a deserted place… I don’t really remember much about it, except for a pesky purple teddy bear that kept following me around.  Yeah, maybe we’ll unpack that laterJesus recognized that the people had various ailments and were also feeling pretty down.  So, he went around applying blister cream, giving out band-aids, massaging sore muscles, listening to people’s sorrows, and being an all-around good dude.  Jesus had been at his “good dude-ness” for quite some time, and it was getting late.  Some of the disciples were getting hungry, and they didn’t quite know how to get Jesus’ attention for a dinner break, so they sent the lesser-known disciple; Todd. 

Todd walks up to Jesus, “Hey uhhh… so it’s getting late and boy these folks sure seem hungry.  Whattaya say we send them on their way so they can go get something to eat?”  There’s a look in Jesus’s eyes, Todd immediately knows he shouldn’t have asked, “Nah, Todd, I think these folks are just fine where they are.  You and the disciples feed them.”  Todd, bewildered by this request, responds, “about that Jesus, see the guys and I only have some fish and bread… you know we were hoping to do fish sandwiches.”  Jesus said, “Todd!  Bring me the fish and the bread.”  Then Jesus turns to the crowd and shouts, “Ok y’all were going to have ourselves a picnic so go ahead and have a seat, maybe sit next to someone you don’t know… just buddy up… hey and pass the word so the folks in the back are included.”  Then Jesus took the fish and bread, blessed it… Oh yeah yeah, “come lord Jesus be our guest, let these gifts to us be blessed, may there be enough to share on every table everywhere.” Can I continue?  Yep. And then like magic there was enough fish sandwich fixins’ for everyone there, in fact there was enough that even Todd and the other dudes could eat.

See what just changing the context of well-known story brings both smiles and the important message of the original!  Pam and I will be back in September.

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