warning: a very silly person wrote this

If you are in the mood for a serious reflection this bloggage is a good one to avoid. Please don’t read on.

If you have a good opinion of me, perhaps you had better not read on… or maybe you should know the truth!

Let me set the scene: I was at a conference, listening to an excellent speaker who was making some excellent points in a really engaging way. I was glad to be there. It was edifying and encouraging.

And then the speaker said something serious and important that had a double meaning. It was not a double-entendre, and it was certainly unintentional, but as well as the speaker’s intended significant and excellent meaning there was a possible lavatorial interpretation that accompanied that phrase. (I will not be telling you what the phrase was, nor who the speaker was as it’s not fair on them).

I like to think that I am a relatively mature person. I like to think that I have a small amount of gravitas and wisdom. I like to think that I am a sensitive, spiritual person. I am now a Regional Minister and am supposed to set a good example to others. But at that moment the inner five year-old boy broke out of my subconscious and I could only think of the lavatorial interpretation of what was being said. Inside my head I was howling with laughter but I knew (because I am mature, have gravitas and am wise, sensitive and spiritual) that I should not show this at all. I tried to keep a straight face but every time I thought I was managing to do so I could hear the inner five year-old boy laughing again.

Just when I thought I had control of myself and the smirk reflex was being suppressed I made the mistake of glancing along the row. I was interested to see whether it was just me who had picked up the possible lavatorial interpretation. At that moment one of my friends along the row (who had clearly been wrestling with a similar problem) glanced along the row in my direction and caught my eye. There was a glint of mischief in their eye (and maybe in mine) and suddenly the smirk reflex was back in full flow, accompanied by an almost irresistible urge to laugh.

And you know how it is, don’t you? When you try to stop yourself from laughing and you know it’s meant to be serious and you don’t want to distract anyone else the only thing you are capable of doing is laughing.

I had to cover my face and try to look like I was seriously in prayer (it was a Christian conference). But then I sensed movement from behind me and realised that another friend was literally rolling on the floor laughing silently. At that point it was almost impossible to keep a straight face and very difficult to stop myself snorting out the guffaw that was bubbling up inside me. Cue ‘shampoo position’ in deep prayer.

Somehow, by God’s grace, I managed to control myself. The inner five year-old boy sulked back into my subconscious as I refused to listen to him and the laughter and smirk reflexes subsided… at least until after the session finished and I met up with those friends who had received the lavatorial interpretation and responded as immaturely as me. Cue much laughter.

As I think back on this I feel rather silly. I feel a bit guilty. I feel as if I ought to apologise to anyone whose opinion of me has been somewhat diminished by all of this. I apologise to the speaker who was brilliant and who was making an important point even as I wrestled with the inner five year-old boy.

I feel like a minion from Despicable Me, laughing at lavatorial interpretations (see the picture on the left for an example).

And yet, I still find myself sniggering and laughing when I think about it: there are some things that are just, well, funny.

Yes, there are times and places when it is inappropriate to laugh. Yes, we need to be sensitive to those around us. Yes, there are times when we need to be mature and sensitive and wise.

But*…

One of the things that I think is part of being made in God’s image is that we have a sense of humour.  And if God has given us a sense of humour (which I believe he has) I think that sometimes we have to allow the inner child to surface and allow ourselves to laugh (even if you have to suppress it until the appropriate moment when the bottled laugh uninhibitedly plunders your serenity).

I am a very silly person. And that’s all right. I think.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*Let me further illustrate my immaturity. I wasn’t there when this happened however a friend who was there told me about it. Had I been there I would have probably responded as above. My friend did…

It was an important meeting and there had been a long discussion. They were close to reaching a consensus when someone who was always serious interrupted the seemingly unanimous flow of the meeting: “I have a ‘but’, and it’s a very big ‘but’.”

what’s God like?

After the brutal attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo yesterday I have an observation which is pertinent (I think) whatever faith (or non faith) you have:

If your God can’t laugh at himself and you feel the need to defend him (violently), perhaps he’s too small and you’re too big.

Be blessed, be a blessing

An image showing snapped pencils posted by artist Banksy
Image from Banksy

you’re a joke

laughing - permission given for blogJokes are funny. I know that we don’t all find all of them to be ‘funny haha’ but they are ‘funny peculiar’. What I find funny (peculiar) is the vast range and variety of different jokes. Some work best when observed or read on the page or screen; others work best when spoken or performed. Some have a lengthy set up before we get the punch-line; others hit you before you are ready. Some jokes are one-liners; others are long and complicated. Some are very clever and take a while to work out; others are blunt and blatant. And there are many other variations – so much so that some jokes have universal appeal and others only work in specific languages or cultures. But they are all jokes.

One that I found this morning tickled my funny bones: “Making spoonerisms is a bit like bird watching.” It’s short, it’s clever, and I think it’s funny (haha) too. But it doesn’t work if you translate it from English and you have to know what a spoonerism is to make it funny and recognise how clever it is.

One thing that I think Christians have missed is just how funny (haha) Jesus was. I have written about it elsewhere on this blog and you can read about it in my dodgy degree dissertation that you can download from here. I think the reason is that we don’t understand the prevailing sense of humour of his day and his culture. And we imagine that he was always serious and never played pranks on his friends, didn’t tell jokes and didn’t enjoy a ‘throw-your-head-back-laugh-til-it-hurts joke. If we deny him that we diminish his humanity (which doesn’t enhance his divinity). Did he chuckle to himself as he sent Peter the fisherman off to catch a fish which will have a coin in its mouth in order to pay the tax, or was he deep in thought and seriousness?

I think we are all jokes. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense. What I mean is that we are all different, unique, funny (peculiar) and yet all share the same human-ness. We need to  appreciate differences and not elevate any over any others; we need to recognise similarities and affirm them; we need to seek to understand one another and we need to be prepared to take ourselves a bit less seriously sometimes and laugh more. If Jesus did, shouldn’t we?

Be blessed, be a blessing

LOL

I remember when I first received a text message from someone that included LOL. I thought it meant ‘lots of love’ which was really nice, although it was a bit unexpected from the friend who sent me the message. It was only later when I discovered it meant ‘laughing out loud’ that the message made more sense.

Laughter is something human beings instinctively want: Martin Luther is credited with saying, “If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven I don’t want to go there.” And comedy is fast becoming the new rock n roll, with stand up comedians selling out massive venues. I think it is because people love to laugh and will gladly pay to watch someone who has the gift of bringing laughter out of them.

You can go to laughter therapy sessions where you laugh with others and enjoy the endorphin buzz. I am not sure about that but there is something genuinely therapeutic about laughter. One of the (many) reasons that depression and other emotional illnesses are so awful for sufferers is that they can rob people of the gift of laughter.

What makes you laugh?

Do you enjoy physical comedy and slapstick – the classics of seeing someone slip on a banana skin or getting a custard pie in the face?

Do you find laughter comes from words – jokes, puns, funny stories?

Do you laugh at situation comedies or cartoons in the newspaper?

What makes you laugh?

Sometimes it is good to pause in life and realise the silliness of some of our attitudes or behaviour. It’s worth reflecting on how we can elevate the petty and insignificant actions of others to a place where they dominate us (see most of the ‘feud’ plots in soap operas). Ponder the thought that so many of the things that worry us are beyond our control (the future, the actions of others) that it’s pointless us worrying about them.

And then allow the incongruity to make us smile, allow the smile to become a grin, let the grin make a noise, and let the noise build to a laugh. Don’t worry about the people around you: laughter is contagious and you might be responsible for starting a glorious epidemic! And you might just see things differently afterwards.

Be blessed, be a blessing

DESCRIPTION: Dove talking to Noah.  Cats looking on. CAPTION: YOU THROW THE CATS OVERBOARD AND I'LL TELL YOU WHERE I FOUND THE BRANCH

Unexpected blessing

Today I was blessed by a friend. I was blessed by their friendship and trust in me. And I was blessed because they told me that they read my bloggages. And I was blessed because they said that they had read this morning’s and it reminded them of some artwork they had.

And I was blessed because they kindly, generously and thoughtfully gave it to me. It is now sitting above my desk in my study to remind me of God’s laugh and smile.

So, to my friend, ‘Thank you’.

And to the rest of you, read this (you may have to click on it to enlarge it) and…

Be blessed, be a blessing.2014-02-07 14.11.55

sore jaw

My jaw is sore.

It is a result of last night.

laughing - permission given for blogIt is not aching from being punched, but from laughing. I had an evening that combined three of my favourite things. I went with a friend to see John Archer perform his wonderful comedy magic at a church in Southend. Friendship, magic, and faith all combined in one hilarious evening.

Wonderful.

Today’s bloggage may not be the longest ever but I hope it is illustrative of some of my firmly-held beliefs:

  • my Christian faith permeates and is relevant to every area of my life – there are no areas it does not touch and should not touch.
  • it is good to laugh – especially in church.
  • an experience (good or bad) shared with friends (and family) is an experience enhanced.
  • Jesus loves it when we enjoy ourselves, he told funny stories after all, and God gave us the gift of laughter.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Time to reflect

This weekend was the fifth anniversary of my Induction at Colchester Baptist Church. Time has flown by!

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of my Ordination. Time has flown by!

So as I am in an anniversaryish mood, I wondered what advice I would give the newly ordained me if I could borrow a Tardis and nip back in time…

  • 9 o’clock is the watershed: phone calls before 9 o’clock in the morning or after 9 o’clock in the evening are not usually good news.
  • Don’t respond hastily to criticism: weigh it, sift it and ask for grace. God might be trying to say something to you and this may be the only way he can get your attention!
  • Greeting people ‘on the door’ afterwards requires you to be an octopus (to shake all the hands), and elephant (to remember everyone’s names) and a woman (to multitask). Or you could get someone to help you.
  • Emails will be very useful in the future, but don’t imagine that by sending an email you have communicated successfully.
  • Computers will be incredibly useful to you, but keep them as your servants not your master. (They will always crash at the most inconvenient of moments.)
  • It’s always a good idea to check your flies before you go into church.
  • Don’t forget dry underpants when packing for a service of Believer’s Baptism.
  • You won’t be able to please everyone: seek to please the One instead.
  • God gave you two ears and just one mouth for a reason.
  • Everyone has already heard the story about the little girl who said “I know the answer’s Jesus but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”
  • Encouragement is a better motivator than guilt.
  • This too will pass.
  • You’re not in charge.
  • Always check the bread before Communion (see here for reasons why)

Be blessed, be a blessing.