Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, April 29, 2007

On Laughter

Sermon for Easter 4, 4/29/07 by Robert Warren Cromey
At Church of St. John the Evangelist, San Francisco.

Jesus says, “My sheep follow me.”

I wonder if Jesus was giving his opponents some insults. Who wants to be called a sheep? Who wants to be told they are sheep? Was Jesus laughing at his opponents?

It is harder for the rich to get into heaven, than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Stop and think about a camel trying to get through the eye of a needle. It is a joke and a pun in the Aramaic.

Laughter makes us breathe as we gasp for air when something really funny happens or is said. To breathe is to be alive. God was expressed by the ancient Hebrews as breath. We ask the Holy Spirit to breath on us, “Breathe on us breath of God” goes the old hymn.

Norman Cousins, late editor of the NY Review of Books, was dying of cancer. He found that reading humor, watching funny movies and TV relieved his pain and revived his spirits. He outlived the timeline the doctors gave him. The laughter filled his lungs with air and gave him sustenance and strength.

Humor, jokes and comedy are almost always about really important life and death issues. They make us think, give us breath and make us laugh.

On death: Woody Allen says, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality by not dying.

I don’t mind dying; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down.

Mark Twain said “No one gets out of this life alive.”

That reminds me to mention an important pastoral issue. Have you made out your will? Do it, if you haven’t. Have you made out your burial plan? Do it so your family and friends know how too get rid of your carcass and what services you want to happen and where. God only knows what they will perpetrate on your body if you do not leave instructions. I have mine but I have to cut the number of hymns from forty to about four.

On relationships: I have read these and they do not reflect my views of marriage and relationships but I like them anyway and they make me laugh.

You have two choices in life: You can stay single and be miserable, or get a partner and wish you were dead.

80% of men cheat on their partners in the USA, the rest cheat in Canada.

If you want your partner to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say, talk in your sleep.

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

Jesus said we are to become like little children in order to enter the kingdom of God.

Some kids were asked what you do on your first date?
“On the first date they tell each other lies that usually get them interested enough to go for a second date.” Martha age 10

When is it OK to kiss someone?

When they are rich. Pam age 7,

On ageing: Anne Lamott who writes humorously on religious and personal matters worries about her looks as she gets older.

She says she has cellulite that would make Jesus weep.

Lamott wears her hair in dreadlocks, as it has always been unruly. As she sees her face in the mirror she says, “I worry that I’ll start looking like Richard Nixon in dreadlocks.”

Lamotte worries a lot. She writes, “Sometimes I think Jesus watching my neurotic struggles must clasp his forehead and start tossing back mojitos.”

She quotes a Vedanta saying, “And may the free make others free.” Only the free can truly laugh. I never saw a slave, a capitalist or communist laugh. They are very serious people.

We in the church are concerned for healing. We all go to the doctor to get well.

The doctor gave a man six months to live. The man said he couldn’t pay his bill, so the doctor gave him six more months.

The doctor called Sam saying, “Your check came back.”
Sam said, “So did my arthritis.”

The doctor says, “You’ll live to be 60.”
“I am 60.”
“See, what did I tell you.”

War, massacre, racism, sexism, poverty, homelessness and global warming. Not much that is funny about all that.

The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that resurrection and new life are always our hope and strength, a very help in time of trouble.

Jesus laughed. Most depictions of Jesus show him serious, sorrowful, in pain and death. I have seen some images of Jesus laughing, not many. But Jesus laughed, he was a human being. He saw the pain and absurdity of the world.

When we laugh, we open ourselves to the indwelling of the breath of God, the Holy Spirit. When we laugh we keep our self-righteousness and ourselves in check. When we laugh we are open to new life.

Laughter is a grace, a free undeserved gift from God. We do not earn our laughter, we are given it.

The cliché is” laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.” In the church we need not cry alone, we can cry in community, in a place of love and caring, and in the end we laugh and the community laughs with us.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Youth Service Mission to Biloxi

My fourteen year old grandaughter, Mary-Charlotte Buck of Andover MA, went to Biloxi, Mississippi with other youth from the Diocese of Massachusets. Here is her report.

Subject: Re: home again

Dear Grandpa Robert,

Returning from Biloxi, thought i'd write about the trip, for you, for me, for whoever wants to read it.

The group sponsering the trip was the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Forty youth from all over MA came, along with a group of 30 kids from Christ Church in Needham, MA (10 minutes from Boston). We didn't travel with the Needham kids, but we stayed with them at Camp Biloxi. Camp Biloxi was where we stayed; we all slept in one giant tent, boys on one half, girls on the other. It was only sort of a tent, however, there were wood floors and wood doors as well. The walls and ceiling were made of tent material. I was a member of group two. There were eight kids in my group including me, and I knew four of them before the trip. We all became very close over the week. We arrived on Saturday night and went straight to bed. Sunday we did low-key things, as we were all very tired from traveling all day saturday. We went to church, of course, in the morning, and in the afternoon we took a tour of Biloxi. Biloxi is right on the coast, with twenty-six miles of beach. Actually, the beach is
twenty-six miles long, but I don't think that the entire beach is part of Biloxi. On Monday and Tuesday my group worked at a man named Randy Peaton's house. He goes by the name KittyKat.

At his house we painted, did yard work, worked with a lighting fixture, and did some gardening. KittyKat was so loving and appreciative towards us. He told us a lot of stories about his family and friends. His grandmother has 216 grandchildren! A lot of them are related through stepparents, though. On the second day we worked at KittyKat's house, he cooked us a huge meal of ribs, pork chops, and chicken. I don't like ribs or pork chops in general so I didn't have any of those. The chicken, however, was honestly the best chicken i've ever had. As it turns out, KittyKat used to be a famous chef before he wounded his arm and became disabled. He was probably the most interesting and generous person who I met in Mississippi, and he loved us as well. He cried when we left on Tuesday afternoon, because he had gotten used to spending time with us.

On Wednesday I woke up in the morning with Conjunctivitis! It was really gross. I didn't work that day, and I went to the free clinic in Biloxi to get a perscription for eye drops. However, my group took a brake to go to Sonic (the fast-food restaurant) for lunch, and they came to get me to go out with them! It was very much fun. I also went grocery shopping with Sonia (She is the wife of Rob Bacon, the leader of the whole trip, and youth minister to the diocese of MA) and to a barbeque at the church down there with everyone else, so my day was actually very much fun.

On Thursday my group and I went to a Boy Scout Camp to help them with "spring cleaning". It was not exactly disastor relief there, because they weren't too badly affected by the storm. However, they were very appreciative and I think that the owner really need the help. On Thursday, my group leader, Paul, had to leave to go to Washington DC for a conference. He was really nice and my group got along really well with him. Thursday we had a new leader. Her name was Ann, and she was a little bit crazy. She was pretty nice but tended to lose her temper easily.

Friday, we went to a woman named Addie Harper's house. She was extremely nice. She was relatively elderly. She has a number of kids, but in August one of her daughters died of a stroke. The daughter had four kids. I only met three of them, but they were ages two, three, and four. The three kids were adorably cute and we got along with them great. In Addie's house we could only do so much, because we had to leave the next day. We painted two rooms. She was very appreciative for the paint job, and also for a rest for the day because we took care of her grand kids too. Friday was our last day of work.

Saturday morning we had to get up at four am for our flight. I bet you know how much I enjoyed that. I felt very, very appreciated on my trip to Biloxi. Everybody there was so welcoming and nice, they just loved all of us. Everybody who we worked for thanked us about one hundred times before we left, and even random people would come up to us and as if we were volunteers. When we said yes, they would say, WELL THANK YOU! I wish that I could go back right now and continue working for all of the people there. I think mission trips might be my new favorite thing. Along with southern cooking, that is.

love, Mary Charlotte

P.S. whew, i think that is the longest email i've ever sent.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Massacres et al

Massacres along with racism, sexism, war and poverty will never stop. That is the cost of being imperfect human beings.
Compassion never stops either. So all we humans can do is to work as hard as we can to stop these very evils. That is the human dilemma.