And The Laugh Shall Be First is a sweet book that William Willimon compiled years ago. Here’s a brief portion of his introduction: “Human beings are the only animals who both laugh and weep – for we are struck with the difference between the way things are and the way things ought to be. Humor results when the human situation is exposed and we are put in our place. Reinhold Niebuhr said somewhere that, “the very essence of sin is to take ourselves too seriously.” If that’s true, then “the very essence of grace is to receive the gift of laughter, especially when the joke is on us.”
I’ve lost count of how often the joke has been on me! A few Sunday’s ago was a perfect example.
I was in the midst of my “eloquent & entertaining” announcements during the sanctuary live-stream, and had just highlighted Holy Week virtual opportunities. I started to reference Easter Sunday – and before I could catch the words from leaving my mouth, I heard myself say “let’s look forward to celebrating THE BIRTH of Jesus on Easter.”
As you can imagine, alarm sirens immediately went off in my mind! All the voices in my head were speaking at the same time: one said “keep going and deny you said it,” while another voice said “stop right now – acknowledge your gaffe – and pray that Dr. Bruster doesn’t take your ordination credentials at 12:05 pm” In that moment, I listened to the second voice and laughed at myself for confusing Jesus’ birth and resurrection (happens to everyone – right?). Dr. B didn’t fire me, and my wife even let me enter our house that afternoon.
The coronavirus has placed all of us in challenging and confusing situations. And many have risen to the occasion by saying, “What can I DO to make a difference?” One thing I can do is try to make people laugh by poking fun at myself. Since I have a lifetime of material to draw upon… there are more episodes to come!