corny joke

I hope that you had a good Christmas. I hope that you found what you were hoping for – not just in a stocking, pillow case or under a tree, but in the friendships, family relationships and your relationship with God.

other makes of corned beef are available

A man went on a camping trip with his wife. He had been left to do the catering and had only brought three cans of corned beef. She was a bit miffed, but decided to let it lie. The first evening they sat down to eat and his wife was intrigued to see him get out his multi-function penknife, open out the can opener tool, and proceed to open the can with the can opener. Again, she let it lie and they ate the corned beef.

The next evening he got out the second can of corned beef, and once again opened it using his can opener tool from his penknife. His wife almost said something, but decided against it as they were having such a good time away. They ate the corned beef in silence, though.

The third night the man got out the third tin of corned beef and started to open the can opener from his penknife. His wife couldn’t resist any longer.

“Honey,” she asked gently, playing the innocent, “What’s that key on the top of the can for?”

“Silly you,” patronised the man, “That’s for people who don’t have a penknife with a can opener attachment.”

If you are one of the male of the species about now is when you will have to consider consulting the instruction manuals that came with the gadgets and presents you were given because we all know that they are like the key on a can of corned beef – just there for people who can’t work it out on their own.

But when we do consult the instructions (or more likely download them) we find that they are actually quite useful. We find out what that button actually does, you know – the one that we thought didn’t do anything. We find out about how to get the best out of the present. We find out what it can really do.

Perhaps in 2016 we should treat our Bibles less like a bloke treats an instruction manual and find out how much more God has for us…

Be blessed, be a blessing.

i don’t get it

A couple of weeks ago I began a sermon with a joke that died. Here’s the joke (told here on April 5th 2011):

Two guys are bungee-jumping one day. The first guy says to the second, “You know, we could make a lot of money running our own bungee-jumping service in Mexico. They’ve never heard of it there.”

The second guy thinks this is a great idea, so the two pool their money and buy everything they’ll need – a tower, an elastic cord, insurance, etc. They travel to Mexico and begin to set up on the square. As they are constructing the tower, a crowd begins to assemble. Slowly, more and more people gather to watch them at work.

The first guy jumps. He bounces at the end of the cord, but when he comes back up, the second guy notices that he has a few cuts and scratches. Unfortunately, the second guy isn’t able to catch him. He falls again, bounces, and comes back up again. This time he is bruised and bleeding.

Again, the second guy misses him. The first guy falls again and bounces back up. This time, he comes back pretty messed up – he’s got a couple of broken bones and is almost unconscious. Luckily, the second guy finally catches him this time and says, “What happened? Was the cord too long?”

The first guy says, “No, the cord was fine, but what is a piñata?”

I think it’s a funny joke. But it fails badly if, as happened in that fateful sermon, your audience does not know what a piñata is! I wondered why the laughter was spread sporadically across the congregation. Perhaps there had been an horrendous bungee jumping accident at the church before I was appointed. Perhaps piñatas were the cause of arguments in the past. I did not consider the possibility that some people did not know what one was.

The following week I used that as an illustration. We now live in an era where the vast majority of people only go to church for weddings or funerals and may feel like a lot of the congregation did in not understanding what a piñata was. They don’t know what we are talking about when we talk about faith and church. We need to adapt and respond to these changed circumstances (which is what the book of Daniel is all about, and that was the point of the illustration). But it’s worth considering whether we as a church or as individuals use language that is impenetrable for people who are ‘outside’ and thus are creating barriers between them and God that he has not intended.

Here’s a test. Do you know what these are?

Chasuble
Communion
Hassock
Monstrum
Ordain
Apostle

If you struggle with some of them, how much more difficult will others find it? Jesus used everyday illustrations to explain what he meant and helped people to engage with him. We seem to have reversed that process. The bungee jumping joke may have another application here…

Be blessed, be a blessing.