We’ve all been around someone who is slow to catch jokes. While everyone else laughs, he or she looks around with puzzlement, or tee-hees nervously to keep from being obvious. Such folks add to the delight of the moment, for when the humor finally penetrates their innocent sincerity, they typically laugh loudest of all – which multiplies the mirth. The “Oh, I get it now” moment is often even funnier than the original amusement.
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “I’ve often thought that the gigantic secret of God is mirth.” It’s a secret not because it is hidden, but because we don’t get it – which is funny in itself! And we’re definitely not missing the punch-line because of an innocent sincerity. It has more to do with taking ourselves too seriously, which inevitably veils us with grimness.
One of the gospel’s great gifts is the “Oh, I get it!” moment, when Jesus removes the veil. Then we begin to see life as it really is – both tragic and funny, the latter spinning forth from this gigantic secret of the Master of Mirth.
And part of the joke is that the secret’s been in plain sight all along! Look at the mirth in the creation around us. For slapstick behold the platypus, porcupine, and skunk. For the farcical consider the arrogant Siamese cat or the ferocious Chihuahua. Then for absurdity, check out the elephant and the donkey. (And by the way, could there be any better symbols for political parties who take themselves ever so seriously?)
After laughing with creation, look to the center of the good news. When humanity had soured God’s mirthful world, God’s response was to send his Son. To Nazareth? Are you kidding? Picking twelve clowns as disciples? What kind of slapstick is this? Who alone brings salvation, and yet is rejected? This comedy can be very dark. Whose murder provides life? Ha! Who now conveys this great good news through the church? Ha! Ha!
Could it be that heaven’s mirth grows yet more gigantic when one of us who hasn’t gotten it finally does? Indeed it does. It’s not just “hallelujah” up there, but the profoundly silly children’s song, “Ha! Ha! Ha-llelujah!”