It can tap into the rawness of repentance that resonates with David's heart-felt horror at his actions, as seen in Psalm 51.
It can, however, also cause us to laugh at ourselves - see an attitude or an action, a habit - and realise that sometimes perspective is probably needed.
There are those times, perhaps when I'm not in the best place - a little too tired from too many late nights, a little stretched in places - when I begin to fall into the all too easy trap of taking myself just that little bit too seriously. When that happens, the relentless drive to seek perfection begins to kick in, while perspective seems to get thrown out along with my sense of humour.
And, crucially, it's the ability to laugh at my own ridiculousness that keeps me grounded -
I need it for my sanity and for my soul's sake.
It's important to take a breath, laugh at my pomposity, and get on with living well, laughing often, and loving much.
It's telling, I think, that in his book The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis has quotes from both Martin Luther and Thomas More on the subject of laughing at the devil - sin and the state of the soul is, after all, a serious business, even to the devil:
'The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.' Luther
'The devill...the prowde spirite...cannot endure to be mocked.' More
While these little humiliations, or embarrassments, help to keep pride at bay, perhaps the wee silly things that trip us up occasionally are useful; a reminder that we aren't perfect this side of heaven, perhaps even a reminder that we're not the Messiah - we already have one.
And, with that, some very imperfect notices from church bulletins, for a little Lenten levity:
- Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.
- Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
- The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.
- On a church bulletin during the minister’s illness: GOD IS GOOD; Dr. Hargreaves is better.
- Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.
- Don’t miss this Saturday’s exhibit by Christian Martian Arts.
- A worm welcome to all who have come today.
- During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
- Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
- The ushers will come forward and take our ties and offerings.
- The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Reverend and Mrs. Julius Belzer.
- Don’t let worry kill you off – let the church help.
- Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.
- Helpers are needed! Please sign up on the information sheep.
- The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
- Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30p.m. Please use the back door.
- The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.
- Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.
- The choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.
- At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?”. Come early and listen to our choir practice.
- The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.
- Announcement in the church bulletin for a National PRAYER and FASTING conference: “The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals.”
- The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility. Ushers will eat latecomers.
- Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow.