The Episcopal Church of Saint Mary, 43 Foreside Road, Falmouth, Maine 04105 / 207-781-3366

Making Our Joy Complete

  • April 11, 2021
  • 8:00 AM

Sermon for 11 April 2021 (Pascha 2 B)

Offered by Nathan Ferrell at The Episcopal Church of Saint Mary

Texts:             1 John 1.1-2.2; Psalm 133; John 20.19-31

Title:               Making our Joy Complete

“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20.29).

A teacher down South in the Bible Belt wanted to explain evolution to the children in her classroom.

So the teacher asked a little boy:   Sean, do you see the tree outside?

SEAN: Yes.

TEACHER: Sean, do you see the grass outside?

SEAN: Yes.

TEACHER: Go to the window and look up and see if you can see the sky.

SEAN: Okay. Yes, I see the sky.

TEACHER: Do you see God in the sky?

SEAN: No.

TEACHER: That’s my point.  We can’t see God because he isn’t there. God doesn’t exist.

But a sassy girl in the class spoke up and asked if she put some questions of her own to Sean. The teacher agreed and the girl asked the boy:

GIRL: Sean, do you see the tree outside?

SEAN: Yes.

GIRL: Sean, do you see the grass outside?

SEAN: Yessssss (getting a bit tired of all these questions).

GIRL: Do you see the sky?

SEAN: Yessssss, I see the sky.

GIRL: Good. Now, Sean, do you see the teacher?

SEAN: Yessssss, I see our teacher.

GIRL: Do you see her brain?

SEAN: No, I don’t see her brain.

GIRL: There you have it. I guess we can’t see her brain, because it must not exist!

 

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

Today, it is a good time to laugh. And why? Why should we laugh today?

Why not?!? We laugh at death, because Christ is alive and death is dead.

Besides, one more sermon on Doubting Thomas is not going to change the world, but a little bit of laughter just might!

One bright, beautiful Sunday morning everyone in a small Midwestern town got up early and went to the local church. Just before it was time to start, the folks were sitting in their pews, when suddenly Satan – the evil One – appeared in a flash of lightning at the front of the church. Everyone started screaming and running for the exit, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from evil incarnate.

Soon everyone evacuated from the church, except for one elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew. He did not move and seemed oblivious to the fact that God’s ultimate enemy was there!

Now, this confused and irritated the Devil a little bit, so he walked up to the man and said, “Don’t you know who I am?” “Yep, sure do,” replied the elderly gentleman.

Satan asked, “Aren’t you afraid of me?” “Nope, sure ain’t” the gentleman replied. Satan, a little more perturbed at this, asked, “Why aren’t you afraid of me?”

The man calmly replied, “For 48 years, been married to your sister.”

That’s not very nice now, is it? So all of you men out there, here is a better way to relate to your spouses. Now pay attention!

This is a DANGEROUS thing to say to your spouse: What’s for dinner?

This is a little SAFER: Can I help you with dinner?

This is even BETTER: Where would you like to go for dinner?

And this is the best thing of all to say: Can I get you some wine and chocolate?

It’s not that complicated, really.

Speaking of food, Ramadan starts tomorrow evening at sunset. It’s the Muslim version of Lent, but with an even stronger emphasis on fasting.

I’ll bet you’ve heard this one. It’s a classic by now.

Speaking of fasting, the great Mahatma Gandhi did this quite a bit. As a Hindu mystic, he also walked all around India barefoot. They caused him to have really rough and calloused feet. Gandhi fasted on a regular basis for both spiritual and political reasons. It showed remarkable discipline, but it also meant that physically he was rather weak and frail. And on top of this, all of his fasting affected his oral hygiene. It would not be unfair to say that Gandhi did not have pleasant smelling breath.

He was truly a remarkable man, and to sum it all up, you could say that Gandhi was a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis. (Repeat!)

Yup, if you are going to fast, even though you are not eating food, remember to brush your teeth!

Speaking of Ramadan and Islamic culture, there once was a German, an Englishman and an Irishman who were working on a business venture together in Saudi Arabia. After a long week of work, they pulled out a crate of whisky that they had smuggled in with them. But they got carried away, and they were too loud. The neighbors called the police, and the Saudi police arrested them. Alcohol is not permitted in Saudi Arabia, so they were all sentenced to death!

However, after many months and with the help of very good lawyers, they were able to appeal their sentences down to 20 lashes of the whip for each of them.

As they were preparing for their punishment, the Sheikh announced: “As it is my first wife’s birthday today, she has asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping.”

The German was first in line; after thinking for a bit he said, “Please tie a pillow to my back before we begin.” This was done, but after only 10 lashes the whip had shredded the pillow to pieces. When the punishment was done the German had to be carried away, bleeding and crying in pain.

The Englishman was next up. After watching the German in horror he asked, “Please tie two pillows to my back.” This time it took 15 lashes, but once again the pillows were shredded, and the Englishman was led away in great pain.

The Irishman was the last one up, but before he could say anything, the Sheikh turned to him and said: “Now YOU are from the most beautiful part of the world I have ever seen. Because of this, I have decided to grant you TWO wishes!”

“Thank you, your Most Royal and Merciful highness,” the Irishman replied. “To express my sincere regret at breaking your laws, my first wish is that you give me not 20, but 100 lashes.”

“Not only are you an honorable man from a beautiful island, you are also very brave,” the Sheikh said with admiration. “If 100 lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish?”

The Irishman said, “Before we begin, please tie the Englishman to my back.”

Some things never change…

Did you see the new survey results out a few weeks ago? It seems that fewer and fewer Americans are buying into religion. Prophets are way down. (Get it? Prophets…)

And this problem is affecting every religion! So a priest, a protestant pastor, and a rabbi devise a competition to see who is better at getting converts. So they each go into the woods, find a bear, and attempt to convert it. Later they get together to compare their results.

The priest begins: “When I found the bear, I prayed with him in Latin. He was mesmerized, so I sprinkled him with holy water. Next week will be his First Communion.”

“I found a bear by the stream,” says the Protestant, “took out my Bible, and preached the Word of God to him for an hour! The bear fell down in repentance, and I baptized him right then and there.”

They both look down at the rabbi, who is in a wheelchair in a full body cast. “Now that I think of it,” the Rabbi says, “I probably should NOT have started with circumcision.”

 

And who doesn’t love a collection of bloopers from Parish Announcements?

Like this: “The 8th graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 PM.  The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.”

Or this: “Tomorrow’s sermon is titled, “What exactly is hell? Come early and listen to our choir practice.”

Or this: This afternoon there will be a meeting in the North and South ends of the church. Babies will be baptized at both ends.

What about this beauty: “For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.”

Or this: “Next Thursday, there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.”

This is certainly not a reference to OUR choir. NOOOO WAY!

But here is another choir one: “The ‘Over 60s Choir’ will be disbanded for the summer with the thanks of the entire community.”

What about this one: “Barbara Clifford remains in the hospital and needs more blood transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and is asking for recordings of Pastor Jack’s sermons.”

Finally, an avowed atheist is in a rush to buy a gift for her mother’s birthday, but she can’t find a parking spot anywhere around the mall! So in frustration, she decides to finally give God a try, and she says “God, if you can get me a bloody parking spot, I’ll convert and I’ll go to church with my mom!”

But two minutes later, she says “Ahh, nevermind. I just found one!”

With faith and trust, and with a good measure of laughter, may our joy in Christ be complete, now and always. Alleluia and Amen.

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43 Foreside Road, Falmouth, Maine 04105 / 207-781-3366