Lord, here we are again after another eventful week. We’ve come to learn a bit more about you, to meet with our friends and family, to get our feet back under us and get some sense that things are OK – that in spite of the hurricanes, and earthquakes, and wildfires, and world leaders pushing us to the brink of destruction that there is a Hope. And that Hope is found in, indeed is, your son Jesus Christ.
But many are clinging by a spiritual thread. It is getting harder for many of us to hold on to the belief that you are there – that you are here – and are concerned about us – concerned about us as individuals and as a people. Concerned about the things we are concerned about whether large or small.
There are even some here this morning who have come not because they believe the Bible much less because they trust in you, but because they have no where else to go. The spiritual habit of coming to find a little solace, a little encouragement, a little direction is deeply ingrained in their lives and they cannot not be here.
So we have some questions. We’d rather not wait until we are dead to learn a few things. For example, I’d like to know if you ever laugh. Do you like a good joke? Surprise endings? I mean, things are a bit serious here and sometimes worship is a bit serious as well. I need, we need, a little laughter.
There are a handful of Christians, possibly more in North Korea. A half-day ago in worship they were certainly praying for us and for world peace. We join with them now and pray that your strength will sustain them, give them clarity of mind and heart, that their light will shine in the spiritual darkness of that place, and your laughter will lighten their burdens – whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
The civil war in South Sudan just goes on and on. It has claimed tens of thousands of lives and a million and a half people have fled their homes to live in refugee camps where hunger and disease are their constant companions. Many of them our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is evening there now and some believers have gathered to sing and pray and hear a word of encouragement from their spiritual leaders. May the tears they shed in worship be overwhelmed by laughter as your Holy Spirit meets them there.
Night has fallen on Afghanistan and the darkness brings its own kind of terror. May your tangible presence bring peaceful and happy dreams to your children there. Not only to your children in the faith, but all the children. May families there awake to children’s laughter like the ringing of so many little bells because you visited them in their dreams.
Wars continue in Syria, the Ukraine, Yemen. Unnatural disasters. Adam’s sin resonates through the generations. It is Cain against Abel writ large.
This morning in Mexico, Rachel is weeping for her children and she will not be comforted. Our brothers and sisters have gathered to find a word of hope, to break bread, to sing. May your joy sweep through their assemblies turning their mourning into dancing as David declared in Psalm 30.
In Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands a third wave of disaster in the form of cholera, viral hepatitis, and respiratory infection is sure to follow the recent hurricanes.
Houston and Florida are still reeling. Natural disasters were exacerbated by willful human ignorance. The poor and the poorest of the poor, the weak, the infirm, the desperate have lost everything while congressional leaders are locked in mind-numbing party combat and world leaders scream insults at each other in public.
This is no joke.
We adore you like a sibling loves and admires an older brother or sister or a child adores a parent. We look to you for affirmation. We look to see if you enjoy our company. So I thought this morning we could tell you a joke or share a funny story and see if you laugh. We need to laugh and we need you to laugh with us.
This morning we’ve not only come to find our friends and family, but also because we want to hang out with you. We want to be where you are. To share some stories and have a good laugh like friends do. We’re not sure if this is love but it may be as close as we can get.
And, we want to love you more, much more.
We want to love you with all our heart and soul – all that which is truly us at the very core of our being.
We want to love you with all of our mind – all that we think. We don’t want to be Christians who live from spiritual snack to spiritual snack, Sunday to Sunday. We want to be students of the Word and the world – ones who dig deeply not just for information, but for wisdom that will help sustain us and others in dark moments and dark hours.
We want to love you with all our strength – all of our will, all of our doing that finds its origins in who we are.
We are on this long road to character that comes from loving you with all of our being, all of our thinking, and all of our doing. But this road is hard and we need a little laughter along the way.
And, as we pray for our world and ourselves we realize you have given us your laughter.
Just now, we discover we are like Jesus intimate friends sitting with him after the resurrection. The darkness is lifting. It is early morning. And as we sit around the campfire in Galilee munching fish and chips, we look at him and break into laughter because we can’t believe its true. “We can’t believe it's you.” But it is. He is here. He’s Alive.
When we think on what you have done, even on the long, dangerous, and discouraging road to Jerusalem, like the Psalmist we say, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with joyful shouting … the Lord and done great things for us; We are glad.” (Psalm 126:2-3).
In Jesus Name,
— Written by Dr. Richard White for Intown Church, Sept. 24, 2017