Ponderings with Doug – April 8, 2016



Doug De Graffenried – First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana

Last Sunday was Bright Sunday for those of us who follow a liturgical calendar. The ancient idea was for the church to gather and tell jokes and funny stories. The church was celebrating, and still is, the joke that God played on death and the devil in the resurrection of Jesus.

We blithely throw around the phrase, “Jesus paid it all.” Well, to whom did He pay it? One of the ancient forms of the ransom theory of the atonement teaches that Jesus was buying humanity back from the devil. The devil was satisfied by the death of Christ. The trick God played on the devil was the resurrection of Jesus. You have to work hard to find an opportunity to share the musings of the ancient church fathers! Anyway, Bright Sunday was a celebration of Easter as God’s way of tricking death and the devil and since they are defeated and look foolish we should celebrate, no matter what! The church engaged in this celebration even in the midst of persecution. How can one laugh in the face of death?

I’m working on my material for Bright Sunday 2017. I thought I would give you an early, way early look.

Did you hear the story of the wife, who went with her husband to the doctor’s office for his checkup? Afterwards, the doctor took his wife aside and said, “Your husband is deathly ill and unless you do the following things, he is going to die.” She said, “What must I do?” He said, “Every morning, make sure he gets a good, healthy, hot breakfast served in bed. Have him come home for lunch each day. Give him a well-balanced meal and a full body massage. Then, make sure you feed him a good, hot dinner every night. Don’t ask him to do any household chores at all. Keep the house perfectly spotless and clean, so he doesn’t get exposed to any unnecessary germs and give him romance whenever he desires it.” She wrote all these things down.

On the way home, the husband said to his wife, “What did the doctor say?” She said, “The doctor said, ‘You are going to die.’

Maybe the story of three buddies who were all killed in a car crash and they are immediately in heaven going to orientation. They are all asked the question, “When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about your funeral?” The first guy said, “I would like to hear them say, ‘He was a great doctor and a great family man.'” The second guy said, “I would love to hear them say, ‘He was a wonderful husband, a great school teacher and made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow.'” The last guy said, “I would like to hear them say, ‘Look, he is moving!'”

These quotes are from tombstones. You can find humor anywhere if you look.

“Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York: Died 1942. Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was.”

Or this one from an English cemetery: “Anna Wallace. The children of Israel wanted bread, and the Lord sent them manna. Clark Wallace wanted a wife, and the Devil sent him Anna.”

In a Uniontown, Pennsylvania cemetery: “Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake. Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.”

In a Silver City, Nevada, cemetery: “Here lays The Kid. We planted him raw. He was quick on the trigger, But slow on the draw.”

In a cemetery in Hartscombe, England: “On the 22nd of June, Jonathan Fiddle went out of tune.”

In another English cemetery we find this last thoughtful epitaph:

“Remember man, as you walk by, As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so shall you be. Remember this and follow me.”

To which someone replied by writing on the tombstone:

“To follow you I’ll not consent . . . Until I know which way you went.”

Since we believe that Jesus overcame the devil and death, why don’t we claim that victory in our lives and over our situations? There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God in Jesus, nothing.

I hope this has brightened your day.

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