Monday, March 18, 2013

Being Silly

The morning had been a bit flakier than usual, as I somehow managed to wander out of the house without 1) my checkbook to pay for the delicious lasagna I'd purchased as part of a church fundraiser and 2) the text of my sermon.  Doh.

Still, it was a good Sunday, one worship following another, the feel of them solid.  During the announcements at the second service, we shared the life of the community, and folks were in a good mood.

I goofed around as I tend to do, bantering back and forth with folks.  I went around the room, as hands were raised.  Opportunities for service and study and worship were presented.  Anniversaries were celebrated.  The births of grandchildren were proudly announced.  The room smiled and giggled.  Laughter and genuine warmth aren't a bad way to stir the heart for worship, think I.

At the last call for announcements, a little hand went up.  "Yes," I said.  "What do you have for us?"

"You're silly," piped out a tiny smiling voice.

And while it wasn't news, it was good to hear.   It's great to hear, in fact.  There are serious moments in the life of any church, moments of solemnity and struggle.  There are moments when it is essential that we be steely-eyed in our resolve.  There are moments of sorrow and mourning.

But a community that does those things well and is utterly incapable of silliness or laughter is not a community I'd want to participate in.

Which for some reason, makes me think of John of Patmos and his vision of our encounter with God.  One of the many things that I find jarring about that peculiar book is the coldness of it.  Yeah, I know, there's that sweet part about wiping every tear and all that, but John borrowed that from Isaiah.  But for the most part, there is so little recognizable human joy in that book, particularly as the encounter with God is described.  It's the vision of the Throne, and all is pomp and formality, carefully ordered and structured.  The mental image it invokes is vaguely animatronic.  Welcome to Dulac! C'est un Monde Parfait!

Perfect?  Maybe.  But it just doesn't seem joyful.  Nor, frankly, does it seem like the kind of place where laughter is either expected or permitted.  There is no warmth.  Regal?  Yes.  But if that was all there was, it would be as cold as Cair Paravel under the reign of Jadis.

This seems, to me, counterintuitive.  Encounters with our Creator are, in my experience, knee buckling, more than meeting your daily requirement of mysterium tremendum.  True enough.  I get that.  But encountering what God hath wrought also stirs both wonder and laughter.

Because what makes us laugh is the unexpected, the unanticipated, the thing that is so impossible that we never even considered it...but there it is.

Encountering the utterly unexpected, of course there is wonder.  And maybe weeping, the way we weep when joy overwhelms us.   But how could God not want us to laugh, and to dance, and to giggle?  How could we help ourselves?