WHEN I was a youth worker I had a youth group of fifty young people.
Many of them were males with no church affiliation, who used to spend time wandering the town in groups.
One night, after we had wandered around town and nearly got in a fight, I sat them down in my lounge room and read them some of the Sermon on the Mount.
When I get to the bit about turning the other cheek and loving your enemies these teens quite literally laughed out loud!
There’s something refreshingly disarming about an innocent, first-time hearing of the gospel.
This stuff was laughable!
We approach Jesus and the Scriptures with such piety and seriousness we don’t see its ridiculousness.
I can imagine a Sermon on the Mount where Jesus with passion and vigour delivers the lines to raucous laughter.
“The meek shall inherit the earth, tell us another one!”
Yet mid-way through its delivery the crowd realise Jesus is speaking truth.
I wrote my drama book The Sermon on the Mt Morgan Pub Verandah to try to get this idea across.
The book of Genesis is full of ironic and delightful humour; the word play around Jacob ‘pull the other one’ and his deceptive ways; Abram the old man who is told to change his name to ‘father of many’ and then to take a knife to his nether regions (that doesn’t sound like a good idea), who chortles when told he will have a son and then is told to call his son Isaac all to show that the one who was the laughing stock, is now hot stock because he put his life is God’s hands.
The humour is not simple ha-ha jokes.
It is the delightfully, delicious humour found in a great novel that stirs every emotion and that should be found in a full and abundant life; the humour of the ironic twist, the unexpected ending, and the servant who finds himself king.
Rev Paul Clark is minister with Burdekin Uniting Church in North Queensland.
He is a puppet maker and author of several children’s books, DVDs and resources including Car Park Parables and, with Russell Reynoldson, Sermon On The Mt Morgan Pub Verandah: And other twisted tales from the life of Jesus.