“Senioritis” happens not only to high school 12th graders. It happened to me in my senior seminary year. I was thirty years old. A visiting professor taught a class in which I wasn’t a good student. I sat in the back of the room with my buddy Frank. We were reading the Bible – but only to search for the funniest Bible passages we could find (taken completely out of context, of course). We made a “top ten” list which we later read at our senior banquet. Frank, by the way, showed up for that year’s Halloween party with a small table affixed to his head and his body covered in yellowish-green slimish material (he was a booger stuck under a table). We were both too old for such nonsense.
I no longer recall the entire “top ten,” though I remember pulling some of the sensual texts from both Song of Solomon and Proverbs. There was something about a green couch and a sister with small breasts. I do, however, recall the winner: Leviticus 3:16 – All fat is the Lord’s. We made a minimal effort to encourage such signs for pro football games (clearly, it didn’t take).
When you think of scripture – faith – worship – spiritual life – does laughter easily bubble up?
Most images of Jesus, his followers, and even his Jewish mother – reveal somber if not suffering faces. My Jewish friends laugh – a lot. Did the man who ate with sinners and prostitutes, called a glutton and drunkard not have some fun dinner parties? Could he have had some fun in word plays with his friends and colleagues? Is our life of faith to be laden solely with heavy burdens and hardship? I think not!
On this day, twenty years ago, on the Baptism of Our Lord, my daughter, Rachel Ann, was washed and marked with the cross of Christ forever. My brother, Jonathan, her baptismal sponsor, asked my four-year-old daughter what she thought of her baby sister. Her response: “I’d like to flush her down the toilet.” At my own baptism, 53 years ago, my two-year-old sister was handed the cloth to hold after my head was dried. She stepped into the center aisle, faced the assembly, and blew her nose in it.
Our life with Christ is complicated; so also are sisterly relationships in my family – even at the Font. Christ’s Spirit is with us – to guide us, to forgive us, to connect us and to free us — even to laugh. It’s good for our bodies and our spirits. Not because everything is okay. It hasn’t ever been. I’m banking on a Jesus who laughed and who desires holy hilarity in your life, too.
Keep us, O God, in the safety of your bosom through the challenges within and around us. Free us to receive and share the joy of laughter. Amen.