Scripture repeatedly calls us to ‘rejoice’. Joy is a hallmark of the disciple, and surely that involves laughter!
I love what Tom Wright says:
’Wherever Jesus went there seemed to be a celebration; the tradition of festive meals, at which Jesus welcomed all and sundry, is one of the most securely established features of almost all recent scholarly portraits. He was….making these meals and their free-for all welcome a central feature of his programme’1
The living, active church is called to be the primary sign of the kingdom – a living banquet, a working model of life lived under the love and lordship of Jesus, but a party with an open door policy, where all are invited to come in from the cold and join in with the fun.
As I mentioned in the notes, Graham Tomlin uses the analogy of the church being like the 12th century character of legend, Robin Hood. In that story, the honourable and good King Richard is absent from the country, and so the land is ruled by his despicable brother, King John. Harsh taxation and national oppression lead Robin, Maid Marion and a band of ‘merry men’ to go underground – or specifically, into the undergrowth, of Sherwood Forest. Their acts of defiance and charity (robbing the rich to give to the poor) keep the knowledge of the good-King-to-come alive. And they are a mischievous, subversive lot, characterised by their playful ability to laugh in the face of suffering, because they know that the reign of evil is but temporary. As we delight in story, laughter, and outrageous celebration and kindness, we become living signs of a reign that is here, and is but yet to come in its fullness.
‘The images Jesus used to describe the kingdom were always full of delight. It is like a feast with lavish food and great hilarity, or a woman finding a priceless lost necklace and throwing a party to celebrate. The picture of a bunch of outlaws celebrating with huge joyful meals deep in the forest in defiance of the false powers is the same kind of story. This is no stern, solemn king, exercising a humourless, cold, rule. It is the rule of the gracious host, inviting us into his home, the place where he is in charge, and where there is lots of deep, rich laughter. Miserable, gloomy and dull churches have simply missed the point’2
As you read this ‘Going Deeper’ today, I pray for each and every reader, that whatever your circumstances, you will experience what might seem to be irrational joy. I know that, for some, life is filled with uncertainty and dark shadows. But may grace hold you.
May peace settle you.
May faith enable you to rest well at night, when your sleep would usually be robbed.
And may joy be yours, as you declare that You are His and He is yours.
God bless you.
1 N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was & Is (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 45.
2 Graham Tomlin, The Provocative Church, SPCK, (London) 2002