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"Fourth Annual Humor Sunday"   Larry Reimer   November 12, 2000

"Luke 14, a Commentary" - Kathleen Norris (Luke 14:7-24)
He is there like Clouseau
at the odd moment,
just right: when he climbs
out of the fish pond
into which he has spectacularly
fallen, and says condescendingly
to his hosts, the owners
of the estate: "I fail
where others succeed." You know
this is truth. You know
he'll solve the mystery.
as he is, the last
of the great detectives.
He'll blend again into the scenery, and
more than once he'll be taken
for the gardener.
"Come now," he says, taking us
for all we're worth, "Sit
in the low place."
Why not? We ask. So easy
to fall for a man
who makes us laugh. "Invite those
you do not want to have, people
you'd hardly notice." He puts
us on, we put him on; another
of his jokes. "There's
room," he says. The meal is
good, absurdly
salty, but delicious.
Charlie Chaplin put it this way: "I want to play
the role of Jesus. I look the part.
I'm a Jew.
And I'm a comedian."
"Cross Currents" Winter, 94-95.

Charlie Chaplin was right. Of course he could be Jesus. The story the Luke tells of the great feast points out how religious folk tend to think it is the other people who don't belong at the table. God, however, is always welcoming the most unlikely characters into the feast of heaven. We at UCG tend to reverse things. We assume we're the ones not welcome at the table of God. Many of us have been gathered up from the highways and byways of faith. We often feel like the outsiders of the religious world. Humor Sunday is just one example of what happens when God does let folks like us in to the heavenly feast. We know how to have fun. So here we go.

Each culture tends to think they own Jesus. To solve the problem of Jesus' own cultural identity, an ecumenical council was recently convened in Rome in which scholars offered the following evidence on the ethnicity and nationality of Jesus.

His first name was Jesus
He was bilingual
He was always being harassed by the authorities

He called everybody "brother"
He liked Gospel
He couldn't get a fair trial

He went into His Father's business
He lived at home until he was 33
He was sure his Mother was a virgin, and his Mother was sure he was God

1.He talked with his hands
2. He had wine with every meal
He used olive oil a lot

He had to feed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was no food
He kept trying to get the message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it.
Even when he was dead, he had to get up because there was more work to do.

Telling jokes is basically safest when those jokes are about our own religion, race, gender, and age. That severely limits me, because there are no jokes about middle aged Protestant white men. Well actually most of the jokes are about us. Here, for example is a list of courses to help men improve our lives.

Accepting Loss 101: If it's empty, you can throw it away.
Accepting Loss 201: If the milk expired three weeks ago, keeping it in the refrigerator won't bring it back.
Recycling skills 101: Boxes that the Electronics Came in
Recycling skills 201: Styrofoam that came in the boxes that the electronics came in
Bathroom etiquette: Five easy ways to tell when you're about to run out of toilet paper.
"I Don't Know" - be the first man to say it.

Having shared that story, here's one that reflects the difficulty both genders have communicating with each other.
There was a man walking along the beach in San Francisco deep in meditative prayer.
God decided to offer him anything he wanted.
The man thought and answered quite quickly, "I'd like you to build a bridge to Hawaii so I could drive there anytime I want."
God was a little disappointed and replied, "You know that's quite a materialistic wish. Think of the logistics of that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! I can do it, but it's hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Why don't you think about something a little deeper and more profound?"
The man pondered for a while and then said, "You're right God. There is something more important. I've been married and divorced four times. All my wives said I was uncaring and insensitive. I wish that I could understand women. I want to know how they feel inside, what they are thinking when they give me the silent treatment, why they cry, what they mean when they say, 'Nothing.' and how I can make a woman truly happy."
After a few minutes God said, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge."

Just in case you think that laughter is more at the expense of women than men, here we come back at the men.
This story is also linked to the motto of many charitable organizations: "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he will never be hungry." However, I have also heard it said, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day."

There's more. "Give a man a beer and he'll be your friend for a while. Teach him how to make his own beer, and he'll never shut up about how great his beer is compared to yours."

Here's one about an older man, which I can share, because I am close to if not already that.
An older man was driving down the interstate when his cell phone rang. He heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Bob I just heard on the news that there's a car driving the wrong way on I-75. Be careful."
"Hell," said Bob, "it's not just one car. It's hundreds of them."

Speaking of being confused, I went to a bookstore asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

How about a few stories about children?
How children hear the Lord's Prayer is always a source of humor. Most of us know the familiar story of the child who thought God's name was Harold, as in, "Our Father, who art in heaven, Harold be thy name." A six-year-old was overheard repeating the Lord's prayer at a church service, "And forgive us our trash passes as we forgive those who passed trash against us."
Here's one I never heard before, "Lead us not into Penn Station…" and then "but deliver us from e-mail."

Here are a few profound questions.

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?
"Make me one with everything."

What did the hot-dog vendor say when the Buddhist asked for his change?
"The change is within."

Do you know what you get when you cross a Lutheran with a Buddhist?
Someone who stays up all night worrying about nothingness.

Do you know what you get when you cross the Ku Klux Klan with a Unitarian?
Someone who burns a question mark on your lawn.

What do you get when you cross a Jehovah's Witness with a UCG member?
Someone who knocks on your door for no apparent reason.

Do you know why Buddhists can't use vacuum cleaners?
They can't handle attachments.

Here's some advice for dealing with negative people.

A man was getting his hair cut prior to a trip to Rome. He mentioned the trip to the barber who responded, "Why would anyone want to go to Rome. It's crowded, filthy, and full of Italians. You're crazy to go to Rome.
"By the way, how are you getting there?"
"TWA," the man replied. "We got a great fare."
"TWA!" exclaimed the barber. "That's a terrible airline. Their planes are old. They're never on time, and they always lose your luggage. Where are you staying in Rome?"
We're at the downtown International Marriott."
"The Marriott! That's a dump. It's got the worst rooms in Rome. What are you going to do when you get there?"
"We're going to the Vatican and hope to see the Pope."
"That's rich," laughed the barber. "You and a million other people trying to see him. He'll look like an ant from the distance you'll see him. Good luck on this lousy trip. You're going to need it."
A month later the man came in for his next haircut. The barber asked him about his trip to Rome.
"It was wonderful," explained the man. Not only were we on time in one of TWA's brand new planes, but it was overbooked and they bumped us up to first class. The service was wonderful and all our luggage arrived on time. The hotel was great. They'd just finished a $25 million remodeling job, and since they too were overbooked, they gave us the presidential suite at no extra charge.
"Well," muttered the barber, "I bet you didn't get to see the pope."
"Actually, we were quite lucky. As we toured the Vatican a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder and explained that the pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I'd be so kind as to step in his private living room and wait, the pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later, the pope walked in. He then spoke a few words to me."
"What'd he say?" the barber asked.
The pope said, "Where'd you get that lousy haircut?"

Here's the most popular Jesus story I've received this year.
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons Kevin 5 and Ryan 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake.
Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. "If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait."
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, "Ryan, you be Jesus."

This doesn't have to do with church, but it's a popular kid's story sent in by many alert church members. One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?" The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't dear, " she said, "I have to sleep with Daddy." After a long silence the little boy said with a quivering voice, "That big sissy."

Here's a story I heard years ago and could never quite remember. I'm thrilled to have found it again, because it's quite newsworthy. A biologist here at Marineland developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of newly hatched seagulls. One day his supply of birds ran out, so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them he gingerly stepped over them. Immediately he was arrested and charged with transporting young gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

That reminds me of a limerick.
A Slovakian professor named Lex
Caused the dean of the college to vex.
It was said he would pass
All students en masse,
So he was fired for passing bad Czechs.

Speaking of bad trips, a man went skydiving for the first time. He had gone through one hundred hours of training and was very excited. He jumped out, did a few seconds of free fall and pulled his ripcord. Nothing happened. He pulled his back up ripcord. Still nothing happened.
Suddenly he looked down and he could believe his eyes. Another man was in the air with him, but this guy was going up! Just as the other guy passed, the skydiver yelled, "Hey, do you know anything about skydiving?"
The other guy yelled back, "No! Do you know anything about gas stoves?"

Speaking about accidents and tragic moments, an American was knocked unconscious in a serious accident while traveling in Sidney, Australia for the summer Olympics. The ambulance took him to a local hospital for treatment. When he finally woke up he asked the nurse, "Was I brought her to die?"
"No," said the nurse. "You were brought here yesterday."

Speaking about life and death, once upon a time, two mystic yogis pledged to remain friends throughout eternity. Soon after, however, one of them died. Wanting to maintain contact with his friend on the other side, the surviving mystic visited a medium. Following much ceremony, the medium was ready to channel for his departed friend.
With much trepidation the old sage called into the void: "So what do you do all day over there?"
"Well, I get up in the morning, I eat, I sleep, I make love, then I sleep some more, then eat…"
"Wow you must be in Heaven!"
"No, I'm a moose in Idaho."

Is this getting long? One day the pastor noticed a young boy staring at a plaque hanging in the foyer of the church. When the pastor approached him, the boy asked the Pastor, "What's this?"
"Well son, these are people who have died in the service."
The little boy replied, quietly, "Was that the 9:30 or the 11:00 service?"

Speaking of time, a New Yorker was traveling through Vermont, got lost and stopped to ask a farmer for directions. The New Yorker noticed that the farmer was holding a pig up to an apple tree so the pig could eat the apples off the tree.
New Yorkers, as is their wont, can't help but give advice, so this fellow approached the farmer, got his directions and then said, "By the way, wouldn't it save time to just wait for the apples to fall and then let the pig eat them?"
The farmer pondered this, looked at the New Yorker, and then said, "You might just have a point there. But then again, what's time to a pig?"

I close with my favorite story.
A man meets his friend on the street and notices he has big burn marks on both his ears. He asks his friend what happened.
"Well," the friend replied," I had a few drinks the other night while I was ironing. The phone rang, and I grabbed the iron by mistake and answered it. Just scorched my ear."
"I understand," the first man said, "but what happened to the second ear?"
"Dang fool called back."

I close with that joke, because I think that the most important element of humor is to give us some perspective, especially on ourselves. Alcoholics Anonymous says that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and being surprised when we get the same result. Most of the problems of our life result from answering the same iron over and over again.
I know that the only way I can get through the number of mistakes I make every day is to laugh at them and also laugh at myself. I do this because I believe that somewhere deep in the soul the gift of laughter heals.
I know that every one us here carries deep wounds in our soul. We are in tough times as individuals, as a church, and as a nation. I wouldn't do a humor Sunday if I felt it was insensitive to the needs and the pain you brought to this service. I think that sometimes the best gift I can offer you is fun.

If UCG has a differing understanding and theological contribution to make to the religious world, it is laughter. I think we will always be known as the church that laughs.

If, however, you are still skeptical of the way we have used humor here, remember the words of Jack Handy in his collection, Deep Thoughts.

"Before criticizing someone, walk a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you will be a mile away and you will have their shoes."

Updated: 00.11.21 - hto