Plymouth Park UMC Staff Blog



September 25, 2017: He Who Sits in the Heavens Laughs

September 25, 2017

Pastor Bill La BarrSo Fridays are my “Sabbath.” I play golf on Fridays with a group of friends that I’ve sort of accumulated over the years, one if which is “David.”

David (pictured below) is a member of First UMC in Denton, sings in the choir there, has been with us in worship here several times, and is a polio survivor. He lives with constant residual pain from childhood polio.

David is a retired retailer (30-plus years with J.C. Penney and 12 years with FedEx), so we have had lots of similar experiences. He is a big guy, loud and boisterous, and a lot of fun to be around. He’s also a Yankee (born and raised and lived most of his life in Michigan), which is the source of many humorous exchanges.

David is adjusting to my “Texasisms.” For example, there is a large tank adjacent to the tee box on the ninth hole of the course we play. I was gazing out across the water one day and casually remarked, “I bet that tank is full of fightin’ Texas pond perch.”

David, who was teeing up his ball, stopped abruptly, stood up and said, “What did you just say?”

“I said that tank is probably full of fightin’ Texas pond perch.”

“What is a fightin’ Texas pond perch?!” I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

“You would probably call them bluegill, or sunfish or perch. But here they are all fightin’ Texas pond perch.”

“I think you’re messing with me.” Which I was. Then he added, “I’m going to check this out.”

He asked his friends at church and they assured him that “fightin’ Texas pond perch” was the acceptable term. David was incredulous, and in my quiet, unassuming manner, I then really started to mess with him.

One day as we were coming home from the barbecue place, I observed, “Looks to me like it’s going to clabber up a rain.” I thought David was going to choke!

“Clabber?! What’s clabber?”

“It’s going to clabber up a rain,” I said innocently.

“I’ve never heard that in my life,” he retorted.

“Now you have.”

When a putt is left short, the infamous prairie chicken cry is often heard: “Braaack, buk buk buk!”

David is a good golfer. When he really makes contact with his driver, we will shout, “That’s huuuge!” mimicking a certain national public servant.

It’s “trash talk,” and it’s a lot of fun & mdash; with the right group of guys. The rest of my examples are not suitable for a family publication (grin).

As I preach my way through the stories of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, I am continually reminded that dialogue between Jesus and the disciples is a little thin. There is practically no dialogue in Mat-thew, Mark and Luke. There is dialogue in the fourth Gospel, but it has the character of the evangelist preaching to his church. There is no “trash talk” recorded between Jesus and his disciples.

Yet, we know from our personal experiences that when a group of men are together that long, there is going to be some humor. I suspect there was a bit of humor when Jesus used a play on words to announce that Peter was now “Rock,” but it quickly dissipated when Peter stepped over the line and tried to scold Jesus for predicting his death and resurrection.

I like to think of Jesus and the disciples as real people in the sense that their lives — despite the differences in our worlds — were not to dissimilar from ours. We know Jesus enjoyed table fellowship. We know that he was a patient teacher. We know that he was not full of himself: When the Syrophoenician woman challenged him, he quickly acknowledged her point in humility.

But did he laugh? Did Jesus enjoy a good joke? Did he engage in a little “trash talking” with the disciples on the road? Who knows? I want to believe that “fully human” means exactly that. As the Psalmist says, “He who sits in the heavens laughs.” If God can laugh at our foolishness, Jesus could too.

See you in church.
Bill La Barr's signature

Micah 6:8

...what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?