Worship Sunday at 10:30

Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

 
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Easter 04/29/2012

One day Groucho Marx was getting off an elevator and waiting to get on was a clergyman wearing the uniform, all black, clerical collar.  The clergyman recognized Groucho, went up to him, put out his hand and said, “I want to thank you for all the joy you’ve brought into the world.”  Groucho, a little bit taken by surprise, shook his hand and replied, “Thank you, Reverend; you’re very kind.  I’d like to thank you for all the joy you’ve taken out of it.”

There can be that stereotype of clergy people and Christianity and the church and God as being rather grim, stern and humorless.  With stereotypes there is an element of truth, that’s why they’re stereotypes, but I’m out to challenge that this morning, but maybe you figured that out already, what with Far Side cartoons on the cover of the bulletin and singing Joy to the Word at the end of April.   I do feel like we can do this today; I think it’s OK and here’s my rationale just in case the bishop finds out about this and wants to have me removed from the clergy roster. 

First of all, I decided a long time ago that if God doesn’t have a sense of humor we’re probably all in trouble.  But the Bible says that we are created in God’s image and we have a sense of humor, so doesn’t it follow that God must have one too?  My train of logic may be flawed, but I’m sticking with it anyway.

Second, there is a day called Holy Humor Sunday.  I’m not making this up.  It dates back to the early centuries of Christianity and from what I could find it was most frequently celebrated on the Sunday after Easter which was also sometimes known as Bright Sunday.  Actually Bright Sunday marked the end of a week of joy and laughter when they had parties and picnics to celebrate the resurrection and as part of that they would tell jokes and play practical jokes on each other, just having a good time.  All of this though is rooted in the thought of some of the theological thinking of the early church fathers, Augustine, Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, people like that who said that on Easter morning God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead; the Easter laugh they called it and so for one Sunday during the Easter season they would just try to have a few laughs.

Today isn’t the Sunday after Easter, it’s the Fourth Sunday of Easter, but I still thought we could have some fun with this and see if we can all laugh a little bit this morning.  Before that though, what today is often known as is Good Shepherd Sunday and we are going to honor that with the lessons of the day which always include the 23rd Psalm and shepherd imagery from John’s gospel.  You know that Jesus as the Good Shepherd for a lot of people is a very beloved, comforting image.  In a way though, it’s like a practical joke is being played on us because if Jesus is the shepherd, we’re the sheep and while I don’t pretend to know a lot about sheep I know that they are not supposed to be the brightest of God’s creatures, kind of stupid and helpless.  With our fondness for this imagery though, the laugh may kind of be on us although we might not even realize it.  Anyway, we’ll continue now with the Prayer of Day and the reading of today’s lessons, but before that…

Rev. Warren Geier

 
 

Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640
contact@bethanyishpeming.org

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor
pastor@bethanyishpeming.org

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“Whoever
welcomes
one such child in my name
welcomes me, and whoever
welcomes me welcomes
not me
but the
one who
sent me.”
 
 

 

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