We’re God’s Joke On The World

Devotional:

Psalm 72.11

May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

Weekly Devotional Image

I am sitting in my office after being gone from the church since Christmas Eve. I flew to visit family in the midwest and did my best to find some recreation during my time away. But, of course, living in another’s person house, sleeping in a different bed, driving in different cars, it begins to take a toll on you. It’s as if the disorder from our normal order just gets under our skin and there isn’t much we can do about it.

And then, having avoided the news media for more than a week, I made the foolish decision to turn on the TV to find out what I had been missing!

Some things never change.

Which led me to one of my favorite books from Stanley Hauerwas: Prayers Plainly Spoken. The book is a collection of prayers written without the pretenses often found in prayers that are prayed on Sunday morning. And, over the years, I’ve found myself drawn to this ragtag collection when I am at a loss for words. 

And this was the first prayer I read having returned to my office:

“Funny Lord, how we love this life you have given us. Of course we get tired, bored, worn down by the stupidity that surrounds us. But then that stupid person does something, says something that is wonderful, funny, insightful. How we hate for that to happen. But, thank God, you have given us one another, ensuring we will never be able to get our lives in order. Order finally is no fun, and you are intent on forcing us to see the humor of your kingdom. I mean really, Lord, the Jews! But there you have it. You insist on being known through such a funny people. And now us – part of your joke on the world. Make us your laughter. Make us laugh, and in the laughter may the world be so enthralled by your entertaining presence that we lose the fear that fuels our violence. Funny Lord, how we love this life you have given us. Amen.”

As Christians, the new year for us began 5 weeks ago, but I also find it fitting to think about entering the secular new year with a prayer for laughter. For what could be closer to the voice of God than the sound of laughter?

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Devotional – Psalm 31.3-5

Psalm 31.3-5

You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. 

Weekly Devotional Image

I love making scripture jokes. This is not to say that I believe scripture is a joke, I just love to drop lines from the Bible in daily conversation in such a way that it will make people smile, chuckle, and (rarely) laugh. While in seminary this became commonplace among my friends and we always tried to out-do one another.

For example: I would ask what time a lecture was supposed to start and someone would reply “about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13.32)

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Behind every joke was a knowledge of scripture that allowed one of us to use verses whenever we needed to. We did not sit around in the library memorizing specific verses to use as we saw fit, but instead we so steeped ourselves in God’s Word that they naturally became a part of our regular conversations.

Becoming a Christian is like learning a new language. In order for us to learn the language of faith we must become immersed in the cultural practices of lived Christianity. Over the last century scripture has been relegated to the private sphere of our lives, resulting in the biblical illiteracy so very apparent in churches today. To rediscover the vibrancy of faith, we have to return to the beauty of the Word as it becomes our new language; not just by memorization, but by appreciation.

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Jesus knew his scripture. If you read through the 4 gospel accounts it becomes very apparent that Jesus used phrases and images from the prophets and the psalms in his daily life. Moreover, while hanging on the cross Jesus cried out, “Into your hands I commend my spirit” using the same words from Psalm 31. If we are to be a holy people, then recovering the beauty of scripture for our lives rests at the heart of the future of the church.

Perhaps using scripture in ironic and joking ways is not the best way for learning the language of faith, but its a start. Let us all learn to take the time to value scripture, let it soak into the fabric of our lives, and become incarnate in the way that we live out God’s Word in the world.