When it comes to church-land, do you think it possible that we take ourselves entirely too seriously? I mean it seems to me that we are wound a little tight and that sometimes come across stuffy and bland, dare I say even a little ‘grand,’ especially us clerical types. We do need to learn to laugh at ourselves just a little more.
I believe that a great deal of being church today needs to be about having and easy nature, a good sense of humour and the ability to laugh at our ridiculous we can be sometimes. I was reminded earlier today of the great 17th century poet and priest George Herbert. In preparing the Lenten booklet Nancy Nosanchuk brought along one of his poems. Herbert was the ‘Country Parson’ and had a great command of how to interact with people in the village in which he served. Of the many things that he wrote is the following; “In conversation, humour is worth more than wit and easiness more than knowledge.” I think that is very true.
We can learn about who we are as church through the eyes of those who see us and in art and sometimes comedy reflect our image back to us. I love Rowan Atkinson who plays the great Mr. Bean. Perhaps my favourite Mr. Bean episode is when he goes off to church and is caught up in trying to sing “All Creatures of our God and King.” It is gut splitting humour because we realize in viewing it that for those who do not go to church, there may well be some confusion about who we are and what we do – in Mr. Bean’s case it is grossly exaggerated, but that is the whole point. We are sometimes so funny we make great caricatures of ourselves.
I recently viewed for the first time a little piece of Rowan Atkinson as Priest in the Church of England called ‘Amazing Jesus.’ It is funny stuff indeed, although for some of us who take ourselves entirely too seriously, I am sure the comment would be made, ‘that’s not funny.’ In this bit, he reads from ‘scripture’ of the miracle at Cana when Jesus turned water into wine. If you have every known clergy to ‘put on’ a ‘church voice,’ you will love this. My favourite ‘voice’ moment in the is how he says ‘it was orange.’ – you’ll see! This piece is so well done. I watched it again today to remind myself that we really should not take ourselves too seriously, otherwise we come off looking like this….. (be prepared to laugh)
We need to remember that “humour is worth more than wit, and easiness more than knowledge.”