Cross Points 4.24.22

Laughing Along The Way-Psalm 126

A priest, a preacher and a rabbi met weekly to share stories about ministry.  One day one of them commented that preaching to people wasn’t hard, what if they tried to preach to a bear.  So, they made a bet about who would accomplish the most during the next week, each seeking a bear to preach to.
Seven days later they met again.  The priest spoke first, his arm in a sling and with several bandages.  “Well,” he said, “I found me a bear and read to him from the Catechism.  He began to slap me around, so I grabbed holy water and sprinkled it on him.  He calmed down and is coming to communion next week.”  The preacher went next, he was in a wheelchair, both legs in casts, bruises all over.  “We don’t sprinkle, brothers.  I found a bear and began reading from the Bible.  The bear wasn’t interested, so we started wrestling, all the way down to the creek where I baptized him.  He became gentle and we spent the rest of the day singing praises.”  Finally, it was the Rabbi’s turn.  He had been carried in on a stretcher with an IV, truly in bad shape, barely able to speak.  The rabbi looked up sheepishly and said, “We don’t sprinkle or baptize, but I’m thinking I should not have started with circumcision!”
“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed” (Prov. 15:13).  “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22).  We all like to laugh, don’t we?  That is part of the idea with our next Song of Ascent, Psalm 126.
“It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when God returned Zion’s exiles.  We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune!”
In this case, they are laughing with joy because God has brought the exiles back from captivity.  The nation had wandered from God and his ways, they had sinned by worshipping idols, by not following the Law of Moses, by making treaties with neighboring nations instead of depending on God.  This and more.  But now, after a judgment by having them defeated and taken into captivity in Babylon, they have returned.  As the worshipper goes up the mountain of Zion to the temple, he laughs and sings.
Proverbs 17:22 quotes Solomon saying that a joyful heart is good medicine.  We all know it is true, and studies have proven it, as well.  Laugher helps relieve stress, it takes our mind off our troubles, it allows some positive energy to mingle with the negatives of life we all deal with.
Oddly, the enormous entertainment industry in the United States, probably provides evidence that we seek enjoyment in wrong ways, that can do more harm than good.  Like gluttonous kings enjoying the court jester, we want fun at all costs.  We indulge in sports, in television, in movies, we test the boundaries of what is tasteful and moral by allowing Hollywood to dictate what we see and think.  “My enjoyment comes before anything else,” is often the thinking.  Better, wouldn’t you agree, is to simply find joy and laughter in the everyday events of life, not taking ourselves too seriously, willing to laugh about our foibles, yet seek direction for God’s way, so that it is our way. 
We know the pains of sin and sorrow, but we also know the promises of God and experience his many blessings as we walk with him in faith.  We can laugh amid our journey to worship.
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