This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Oct 18, 2021
I had an interesting experience in my church service a few weeks ago. I know there are many different preaching styles out there and all of them are valid and useful in their own way, but one style of sermon that I have never cared much for is the sermon style of storytelling. I know some pastors can use illustrations and stories to make their point in the most effective of ways. I know that really resonates with many people, but I have never found it satisfying or meaningful. That is a personal preference.
But a couple of weeks ago, I broke my rule because I had a great personal and absolutely true story from my past about the first time I met the Mayor of Lima, OH. I am not going into details here, but it illustrated the point that there are some times in life when we are not ready to meet someone important. I carried the point over to how important it is to be prepared to meet God. The sermon had some solid content, but truth be told, it probably won’t be a part of any greatest hits compilations of my career.
My reason for bringing it up here is not only did I tell the story to illustrate my point about being prepared to meet someone important for the first time, but the story was also pretty funny. At least I thought it was funny. I got a few chuckles out of the congregation but I am not sure the humor hit them as much as it hit me. Hey, it happens. No big deal.
But this got my mind revolving around the idea of humor. I want you to think back with me, when was the last time you really laughed? I don’t mean that polite church chuckle; I mean was really struck with something that was funny? Late night TV isn’t funny anymore. Saturday Night Live hasn’t made me laugh since Chris Farley died back in 1997. I don’t even waste my time with comedies out of Hollywood because the last funny movie I saw was Dodgeball back in 2004. When coach Patches O’Houlihan told the team “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball” and then started throwing wrenches at his team. That still makes me laugh.
I realize I am not a natural born stand-up comedian. However my concern is that the reason I didn’t get the laugh I expected isn’t because I didn’t make them laugh, I am concerned that I couldn’t make them laugh. We are in such a divided and polarized time that we no longer allow room for humor and therefore, nothing is funny. Humor used to be the way we would address controversial issues but now there is so much intolerance towards anything that offends people’s delicate sensibilities that humor seems to no longer exist.
Case in point, the best-known comedian of our time is Dave Chappelle. Just be warned, if you have never listened to Dave Chappelle, he is not for the faint of heart. He does not shy away from controversy, nor does he refrain from foul language. I know, all of that is part of being shocking, but the one thing about Dave Chappelle is that he makes fun of everyone. Both side of the political divide, men and women, all races, and the LBGTQ+ community. I have to admit that some of the funniest bits I have heard him do is when he makes fun of white people. He is directly making fun of me, and it makes me laugh at myself.
So far as I know, Dave Chappelle is the only one out there who is willing to poke fun at everyone. Is it offensive, 100% yes. Everything he says is offensive. But he also helps me to not take life so seriously and that is the mistake I believe we are all making.
What is the last thing that you did, watched, or experienced that made you legitimately laugh? I will tell you what it was for me. A couple days ago, someone sent me a video clip on my phone of a dog trying to play with a cat and the cat hated that dog and chased him away. I am sorry, I watched that video 10 times and I laughed every time.
When was the last time you really laughed? If it’s been a while, try this: Why was the math book sad? Because it was full of problems… Lighten up!