A funny little sermon on: John 20:19-29
Last week when I said we were going to celebrate Holy Humor Sunday, I didn’t realize the comedian in our family would be on a camping trip with the Boy Scouts. Since I am not a comedian, Sean was kind enough to give me some professional advice. He said, “Dad, do what I do. Steal other people’s material and make it your own.”
Holy Humor Sunday is an ancient Christian tradition that originated in the Early church, with the belief God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. The week following Easter, priest and people gather to tell jokes to one another. You might say, the church was the first comedy club.
Last week we had a comedy writer/producer at our service. He told me a joke about the pope, a rabbi, and a lawyer who all die on the same day, and wind up standing together at the pearly gates.
St. Peter says to the pope, “Holy Father it is a great honor to welcome you. We have prepared an amazing condo for you in one of our newest, most modern buildings. It has all the comforts and luxuries you want, and a view of heaven that will blow you away. I think you will love it.”
Next, he says to the rabbi, Rabbi Pearlman, we are so happy to have you too. You did a lot of good work for us up here. To show our gratitude, we’re putting you in the same building with that same stunning view. Whatever you need do not hesitate to ask. Heaven is yours.
Turning to the lawyer, St. Peter says, “Mr. Carbonelli, I don’t know what to say other than God has prepared a special mansion just for you. I was asked to take you there myself. I hope you will love it.”
When the Pope and the rabbi hear this they complain saying “Why do holy people get condos and this lawyer gets a mansion?” Saint Peter looks at them and says, “We have plenty of popes and rabbis. But this is our first lawyer.”
Kathleen is always trying to get us to go. She says camping is a tradition in her family. I told her it was a tradition in everyone’s family before they invented the house. I love my wife but I always get a bit suspicious whenever she wants to take me out in the woods. The other day I saw her open a bottle of champagne with a hatchet and knew my days were numbered.
I like to think we have a strong relationship. Because the only argument we have is about where to go on vacation. I always want to go to the beach and she always wants to go with me.
Have you heard of that hotel where you sleep in a tree house? I think that’s weird. Not for people, but for the trees. I mean a tree house has to be the biggest insult to a tree. You’re basically saying, "Here, I killed your friend. Now hold him."
Speaking of killing and holding onto a friend…today’s reading from the Gospel of John immediately follows the Easter story and it takes us into a house where I imagine there’s not a lot of laughing going on.
READ: John 20:19-29
John doesn’t tell us if Jesus knocked or rang the bell. All we know is the disciples are locked away inside when Jesus appears. A couple of years ago, I went to the house I grew up in and rang the doorbell several times but the people inside wouldn’t answer. And I thought to myself…wow my parents are so rude.
Even if the door was locked, it can’t stop Jesus because God’s love knows no boundaries and has no barriers. We can close the curtains, turn out the lights, and pretend we’re not home, but God will still find a way into our messiness to give us peace.
And who doesn’t want a little peace? In our house my kids have actually made ‘noise’ a competitive sport. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children. I keep their pictures in my wallet to remind myself where all my money went.
I wonder if Jesus shows his disciples the scars in his hand so they remember what he did for them. Think about that. The divine Son of God still bears the wounds of his humanity. That should tell us something about the scars we carry with us.
Right after throat surgery I was very self conscious about the giant scar on my neck. Whenever people stared at it I just said, “it’s not that bad. You should see the other guy.”
But when I see my scars, I am reminded that I’m alive. I’m important enough to God to still be here. Your scars, as painful as they might be, are a testimony to God at work in your life. You are important to God who comes to you and breathes the spirit of life upon you.
But we are more than alive… we are alive for a reason. And that reason is to continue the work of Jesus – to be the healing balm of God’s love in a world that is wounded and afraid.
Jesus is the perfection of God’s love made manifest. And he displayed this love perfectly on the cross. His death and resurrection was no joke. To prove it, here are some jokes about death…
What kind of fish can’t swim? Dead ones.
Where do zombies like to go swimming? The Dead Sea.
I had a friend who recently passed away. Her star sign was cancer. It’s kinda ironic because she was killed by a giant crab.
It’s ok to laugh at death. Jesus did. By showing himself to his disciples, we discover that not even death can stop God’s love and grace from entering into our lives and redeeming us back into God’s heart. This should make us want to rejoice, to be filled with laughter and joy.
We need to stop worrying about death and start living life. We are so focused on figuring out the meaning of life that we miss the spectacular view of heaven that is right in front of our eyes.
I’m guilty of this. I once spent an entire morning at the gym trying to figure out why someone would leave a water bottle in the Pringle can holder on the treadmill. Yes. I go to the gym because my doctor said I needed to lose some weight. So far all I’ve lost is my desire to go to the gym. But I keep the faith…hoping one day I will also lose my gym shoes.
Just like St. Paul said, “By faith we are save.” Jesus shows us that it’s by faith we received the Holy Spirit…which is like a personal trainer who pumps you up and helps you lift the weights of life.
The Spirit guides us and shapes us to be who we are called to be…the beloved children of God. Therefore Paul encourages us to “Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ did.” (Eph. 5:1-2). When we see and do what Jesus does, then we learn and teach the will of God for others to see heaven. And it is by this Spirit…Jesus comes to life in us. His resurrection wasn’t a one time event. It happens daily in you and me.
By the grace of God given to us through Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Spirit we receive, God’s perfect love is made manifest in us. We are the beloved sons and daughters of God – called to share this good news, and the joy of everlasting life that has been given to the world through Jesus Christ.
Someone asked me what’s the hardest part of parenting. I said, “hands down…the kids.” Our divine parent never tires, never gives up, never stops bursting through our locked hearts and closed minds. Jesus is the proof of how far God is willing to go for all the children.
I want to give my kids the best; I want to give them all the stuff I didn’t have or couldn’t afford. And then I want to move in with them so I can enjoy it. God wants to give you the very best that life has to offer. But are you willing to let God move in and share with you a spectacular view of heaven? Which reminds me of another joke…
A couple bought a new home and their realtor sent flowers the day after they moved in. It was a giant bouquet, with a big gold ribbon that read “Rest in Peace.”
Noticing it as a mistake, new owners called the florist. He was oddly overjoyed with the mix up. He told the couple, “I’m really sorry for the mistake, but if it makes you feel any better your flowers are sitting on a coffin with a card that reads, “Congratulations on your new home”.
May we all have the will to laugh at death by living life, abundantly.
Special thanks to Jim Gaffigan for his jokes on camping, and to the various anonymous comedy writers out there whose jokes were culled off the internet for this special service.