I recently did something new. I had the pleasure of being a guest preacher at River Park Church in Calgary, Alberta. That was new, but it wasn’t what I wanted to talk about--the new thing that I did (along with 4 hapless volunteers) was comedy improv.
Strictly speaking that wasn’t new for me either, really. I’ve done comedy improv (you know, like you might see on “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” except it was clean) for years. What was new was that we did it during a worship service...as a prelude for the message. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen that before. I don’t want to pat myself on the back here… that’s not at all the point. Unlike me, you may think, “Comedy improv!?! What does that have to do with church?!? That doesn’t sound very reverent at all!” But that’s what I wanted to write about today.
I know we’re getting into Lent, which is traditionally a solemn time of year (and appropriately so, as we prepare our hearts to commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice and the reasons for why it was necessary), but as I was contemplating doing improv for a worship service (we used it to humorously review the life of Joseph) I asked myself why we don’t do more in worship services involving humour?
Apparently, our Jewish friends seem to be much bolder about using humour in their relationship with God. I understand this is called “hutzpah.” A colleague of mine illustrated hutzpah during our recent pastor and spouse retreat by sharing this story:
When Moses was given the task of bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt, God said to him, “Now go, and I will send you to Pharaoh, and take my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Ex. 3:10), but when Israel had made the golden calf and bowed down to it, God says to Moses, “Go down, because your people whom you have brought out of Egypt have become corrupt.” (Ex. 32:7). When Moses hears God say this to him, but before he goes down to the people, the story goes, he pulls at his beard in frustration and says to God, “Argh! That’s not fair! You can’t call them your people when they’re doing good and my people when they’re bad!”
God and Moses both pause in the story for a moment. And suddenly God and Moses start to laugh together.
So, when and how and why should we laugh with God? How do you laugh with God?