Not to brag, but my sermon yesterday got lots of laughs. Big laughs!
And I didn’t even need big props or wigs.
All I did was suggest some reworking of the beloved Christmas music repertoire. So well-meaning folks can more accurately celebrate the original “reason for the season.”
Singing but a few measures or a first line was all that was needed, for the guffaws to freely flow.
“Joy to the world, The End has come!”
“Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see the…but not for long!”
“I’m dreaming of LAST Christmas….”
Those were near the top of my sermon, popped off one, two three for that extra laugh-inducing punch. I peppered other tuneful suggestions throughout my meditation:
“Silent night, holy night, all are gone, at least those who believed what was right….”
“It came upon a midnight clear, a thief who broke in and stole….”
“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus will explode everything ahead….”
“We wish you a unmarried Christmas! We wish you an unmarried Christmas! We wish you an unmarried Christmas! And a final New Year!”
These got really good chuckles, too.
It is pretty funny - and fun - to juxtapose Christmas with the Apocalypse.
Especially right out of the Holiday Starting Gate, the first Sunday of Advent, to set a tone that NO ONE (except maybe the crankiest of party poopers or hippest of late night talk show hosts) would ever come up with on their own.
And to think it comes down from the powers that be of the capital “C” Church who devised the Revised Common Lectionary! Every year, Christmas preparation in and for the church begins with a command to contemplate the End Time and designated gospel readings replete with Jesus warnings of pitch black daylight, roaring seas, falling stars, people flying up to heaven in the blink of an eye and those left behind fainting from fear.
It’s the kind of stuff that make you think Christmas shopping should be limited to canned goods and bunker kits. In fact that would make for a very funny first Sunday of Advent skit. Don’t ya think? Maybe create an infomercial about best and most clever ways to decorate your bunker for the holiday. !
Or look around for correctly-themed Christmas plays already in print. Like this one!
There are all sorts of similarly fun and funny ideas that you can bring to your First Sunday of Advent worship/early Advent life, and I’m sorry for being a little behind the 8-ball here. But hey, it's not yet the first of December, so maybe you can tardily sneak in something a little apocalyptic without much notice....
A few suggestions off the top of my noggin:
1) If you are adding characters to your creche every week until the whole nativity scene is complete by Christmas Eve, try beginning your construction with the locust creatures from the Book of Revelation who have human faces, women’s hair, and lion’s teeth and are given authority to torture those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads for five months with their scorpion tails. You can fill in with the shepherds, Wise Men, Baby Jesus and Little Drummer Boy after that.
You might even consider going for broke, like a guy in Sycamore Township, Ohio did, and construct something like this! (Expect lots of controversy and media coverage....)
2) Instead of making your Advent Wreath in the form of a circle, try making it “four-square,” to remind you and your family of the New Jerusalem. (I don’t know if Michael’s would carry styrofoam in a four-square, although I’m sure that Hobby Lobby would!)
3) At your Advent Workshop, take a break from making your four-square Advent Wreath and play a round or two of the “Left Behind Board Game.” Very entertaining in addition to being educational.
I’ll leave it up to you, your pastor and congregation to fill in all the reasons why the Christmas season should begin with the End Time. They may or may not be funny. Chances are, they are quite profound. (I’m hoping my congregations found my sober explorations in last Sunday's sermon helpful....)
The Comic Lens just suggests whatever you do, you can and should add a little(or a lot) of theologically-correct levity to the mix in your Advent observance. Trust me, it truly enhances the punch!
Even as we’ve moved beyond that First - and most obviously apocalyptic - Sunday of Advent, keep looking for the laugh. After all, what does Jesus say? In so many words?
“Oh, you better watch out….No, you just better WATCH!”