Saturday, September 12, 2009

"We're All Laughing With God" (9.12.09)

Who is Jesus to you?

Recently, my pastor closed a service by sharing a Regina Spektor song, sparking a whole lot of discussion due to the ambiguous last line: "We're all laughing with God."

I was certainly confused. It was all I could think about on the way home. Then my family discussed possible interpretations over lunch. We didn't agree.

Later that evening, a group of friends took up the discussion. We even piled into the hosts' home office to watch the video and analyze the lyrics. Then we read online comments to see what others thought. In spite of all of this research and theorizing, we never reached a consensus. Even the next day, co-workers gathered around my desk to discuss the enigmatic lyric.

Apparently, people feel that the song is meaningful and worthy of attention, but they also feel unsettled by it.

I think this is probably the way people felt about Jesus. They knew he was unique, that there was something deeply meaningful and worthy of attention about him, but he was also unsettling.

For instance, Jesus often turned old ideas upside down using parables and sarcasm to illuminate absurdities, especially concerning religious precepts stretched far beyond where they were intended to go: "You blind guides, filtering out a gnat and gulping down a camel." (Matthew 23:24). Not only was this a stinging rebuke aimed at religious leaders oppressing people with religious laws, but the idea of swallowing "unclean" (forbidden) gnats and camels was quite insulting. He could have simply said, "Pharisees, please stop being so hard on regular folk." But no, he went for the religious jugular.

Even Jesus's closest friends didn't always understand him. They didn't understand why he paused to bless babies when parents brought them. They wondered why he didn't lead the Jewish revolt against the Romans. They couldn't grasp his acceptance of his upcoming crucifixion.

None of his contemporaries understood why he ate with sinners, crossed cultural barriers or allowed Mary Magdalene to anoint his feet with oil. And sometimes, they just didn't get his lessons. He was always talking in riddles.

And yet there was something magnetic about Jesus. Crowds pursued him, public officials noticed him, religious leaders certainly envied and resented him.

Jesus once asked his disciples, "Who do the crowds say I am?" They reported several opinions. But then Jesus asked his friend Peter specifically: "Who do you say I am?"

People are still grappling with that question. Jesus is the line in the sand of all religious discourse. Around the world, we talk about him over dinner, in hospital rooms, in trendy coffee houses, convention centers, art museums, foxholes, weddings, funerals and around water coolers.

Putting aside misgivings you might have about organized religion, is there anything about Jesus himself you find appealing yet unsettling? Maybe you should consider joining the big conversation and answer the question, "Who do I think Jesus is?"

Linda Crow, of Muncie, is the mother of three and works in youth ministry. Visit her blog at www.2nd-cup-of-coffee.blogspot.com.

If you're interested in the lyrics and video:


No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from the party yet

No one laughs at God
When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love, hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they’re mistaken

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine or fire or flood

*Chorus*
But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious
Ha ha
Ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’ve lost all they’ve got
And they don’t know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize
That the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God when they’re saying their goodbyes
But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughing at God in hospital
No one’s laughing at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very
poor

No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
We’re all laughing with God

2 comments:

Thanks for the thoughts.

 
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