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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Did you hear the one...?

Religious jokes are legion. I once did an entire sermon were I only told jokes about people who died and went to heaven. (Truth be told, I have a sermon that is 22 minutes long that is just an elaborate joke. My usual sermons are just jokes...) I love to laugh, and jokes are a good way to get me to laugh. My other preferred way to laugh is to watch politicians try to think...let's just say it's not usually a strong point.

I wonder if Jesus told a lot of jokes, was he a laughing kind of guy? Now, many people hope Jesus was a jokester, especially if they also believe their actions will lead them to hell, and that somehow Jesus can help them get out of it. But I am talking about a guy who has a sense of humor. I am talking about this guy:

 Is this how you think of Jesus?

I only mention this because, as you may have heard, the Roman Catholics elected a new pontiff. (And no, I did not win my bet, goodbye 20 euros.) Christianity gets all serious about stuff like this, even non-Roman Catholics, as if by being excited about this somehow the world is a better place...please. The election of the pope combines both religion and politics, which means you should never talk about it at cocktail parties. Ever.

The election of the pope has as much to do with my spiritual and religious journey with God in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit as the joke about the dyslexic atheist who refused to believe in "dog." Funny, but hardly anything to do with faith. You see, faith is a relationship-word, it is not a thing-word. You can "have faith," in God but you have relationship, you don't have anything you can hold or touch, or even show to someone. Faith, as Joseph Sittler once said, is the "regal relationship" between God and humanity.

I want people to have a relationship with God. I want people to be able to live and understand their purpose in life, and why living has value for them and for others. I want us to take our place in life seriously...but with humor, with laughter, and with some jokes. Over the past year that I have spent  time dealing with people outside of my religious tradition, and I have met quite a few who believed in hell, and it scared them. I feel sad for them that they had that false version of Christianity brainwashed into them so that they couldn't let the gentle humor of God pave their relationship to and with God. There is no hell that burns people for eternity. Sorry, but that is a lie people use to control others, it is not the God of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Easter's coming, and that is the biggest joke of all in our Christian faith, because God has tricked death into believing it has the final say. Death, once it has spoken for Jesus' life, believes it has "won the game." The resurrection is God pulling the rug out from under Death. God says, life wins, my life in Jesus, in the world, in you, that is the future, not death. The cosmic joke God creates on Easter places all the papal voting, all the money, all the stuff we do in some perspective...life is to be lived, even after we die. Get it?

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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