Many years ago, I led a gathering for a group of young adults that focused specifically on the idea of humor as a Spiritual Practice. Our discussion mainly centered around how humor is so absent in the church. Sure, pastors occasionally throw in a joke at the beginning of their sermon, but generally speaking things, that happen at church are so... serious.
Why is that?
Certainly, there is a lot about our faith that needs to be taken
seriously; a lot about our faith that is no joking matter. But I
don’t think this means that all signs of humor need to be altogether extracted from the church. In the same vein, I don’t believe that all our other emotions should be removed from our life of faith. All emotions are holy gifts from God that speak to something real about us as individuals. Emotions are part of who we are and when we hide or repress these emotions we aren’t truly being ourselves. When our faith is not free to embrace all
of our emotions, we are holding something back in our relationship with God.
“Your declarations of love last no longer
than morning mist and predawn dew.
That's why I use prophets to shake you to attention,
why my words cut you to the quick:
To wake you up to my judgment
blazing like light.
I'm after love that lasts, not more religion.
I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.” -- Hosea 6:5-6 (MSG)
I love this passage from Hosea because it calls out the problem we so often face as people of faith. We quickly forget that our faith is about building a relationship with God, not about getting everything exactly right. Growing up I thought church was all about following the rules perfectly: no talking in church, memorize all the prayers, stand at the right time, sing the hymns with gusto... etc.
But over the years I’ve learned that what God wants most of all is to be in relationship with us. A real, authentic relationship where we share all of ourselves with God. Sometimes this means talking with God about our joy, and sometimes it means sharing our humor, and sometimes it means sharing our sorrow, or our despair, or our even our anger.
All of our emotions are holy and precious to God, because our emotions are part of what makes us uniquely us, and that’s
what God desire more than anything else.
May we continue to build a relationship with God that encompasses all of us; emotions and all. Amen.