Vol. 3, No. 5
Many devoted subscribers to the Readers' Digest will recall the section entitled, "Laughter is the Best Medicine." If laughter is the "oil of life" it is certainly beneficial to have a sense of humor to keep one "lubricated" throughout the more trying times. As a preacher, I have always been amused at some of the thoughts expressed in prayer.
One elderly Christian gentleman used to pray to God in the "humble altitude of prayer." Most everyone knew what he meant and would never correct him for fear of hurting his feelings. Or, was it intentional? If you think about it, it is certainly a lofty concept when we are accessing the God of heaven!
I have always appreciated prayers on my behalf as I am about to step into the pulpit to preach. I know that those comments are well intentioned, but many times it is hard to keep one's mind on the prayer when some comments are made. One brother recently prayed for me to be able to recall what I had studied by asking the Lord to "Clear his mind of those things he wishes to present." I envisioned God's finger upon a "delete" button that would have made people happy to go home early that day!
Brethren are great to support the local preacher in prayer, as well as his family. I am still trying to figure out the meaning of one member's prayer for my family and myself, who "Works among us from time to time." Either he felt I needed to put more time into the work, or it was a reference to the finite quality of the duration of a preacher's local work! I decided to take it as neither, but as a compliment from this good brother in Christ.
Perhaps the most humorous moments in my life were generated by the little people of the congregations I have served. A beloved older brother in Christ and a mentor of mine reminded me that "kids are a tough act to follow, and you can't upstage them." I have found it touching as well as humorous how a little child under the age of two can captivate an entire congregation simply by standing on a pew in the front of the church building and making faces at the adults behind him/her. I have spent untold hours preparing lessons to the purpose of trying to capture the attention of the congregation, and a toddler can do it with no effort at all!
The remarks they make are priceless. I teach a children's class up front before Sunday evening services, and have done so for the past four years. Since the class meets up front, it has been dubbed "the front class." Each lesson I prepare for the kids is designed to teach a story out of the Bible by asking a battery of questions. I have discovered that you can never know for certain what a kid will say, and that what he/she says may cost you your composure in front of the congregation.
One night I was asking the questions as usual in the "front class" about the creation account. I asked, I thought, a perfectly legitimate question: "What did Adam say when he first saw Eve?" At first, no one answered, then one little boy raised his hand and I called on him. No one in the congregation heard his answer but me, and I had to explain why I burst out laughing. His answer? "Wow!"
I think there are two reasons why children are so funny to adults. The first is their unpredictability. One Sunday I baptized two young girls who had responded to the invitation that morning. It is always refreshing when the opportunity presents itself in this manner because it is such a boost to the congregation's morale. Everyone seemed so happy as they greeted me at the door on there way out. One little fellow made his way up to me and shook my hand, telling me how much he liked the way I dunked those two girls under the water. It told him I enjoyed it too, but I believe our motives may have been somewhat different.
The second reason I believe children are a good source for humor springs from their innocence. Several years ago, my wife escorted our youngest boy, Lucas, to the basement bathroom during the sermon. We always encouraged our children to go to the rest room in between Bible class and the worship services so they would not disrupt the services, but since accidents can and do happen, my wife no doubt decided it would be best to take him down stairs. Before they could make it back, I had concluded the lesson and the brethren stood to sing the invitation song. Lucas, hearing the commotion asked his mother what was happening. She replied, "The congregation is singing to Jesus." Lucas, wide eyed with excitement said, "Hurry Mommy, let's go see him!"
[Editor's Note: Preachers are invited to submit amusing incidents that have occurred over the years during their ministries for possible inclusion in the pages of Gospel Gazette Online. Someday, these stories may also be converted to book format.]