My family and I went to see “Rise of the Guardians” last week. We loved it. At the end of the movie one of my daughters said, “I want to watch it again. Now.” Pretty high praise.
This movie got me thinking about the ways in which having fun is a virtue. When we have fun, we let go of worry and celebrate life. Humor can dispel tension and help people to see things in a new light. Helping others to have fun is a precious gift. I remember once when I had been going through a difficult time and someone helped me to laugh. Suddenly hope sprang up within me and life seemed worth living again.
Yet the church seems somewhat allergic to fun. Not only do church services tend to be boring but we seem to be able to take good news and turn it into bad news. We take the gift of God’s grace and turn it into a set of doctrines we must believe. We take Jesus’ assurances the Good News is for all people and turn them into commands about forcing others to believe like we do or they will go to hell and it will be all our fault. We take hope filled promises telling us the Kingdom of God can be here and now and turn them into dire threats and warnings about who is in and who is out.
There is much which is wrong in this world and much to be sorrowful about. There is much work to be done. But, we don’t need to take what is joyful and turn it into judgment. We don’t need to teach our children if you are having fun you must be doing something wrong.
Our society seems to equate having fun with being naughty. The best response the church can come up with is the few churches which allow parishioners to dance and jump around while singing “praise Jesus.” More stodgy churches can only muster up a potluck. Really? That’s the best we can do?
Perhaps it is time the church recalled joy and fun as virtuous and spent some serious thought (pun intended) on hope-filled, intensely, marvelously fun ways of living out the love of God in the world. This could be as simple as going bowling. But better yet if we could find creatively fun ways of helping others and communicating God’s love. We could practice humility by poking fun at ourselves. We could call for justice and mercy in our society with humorous satire.
In the movie, Jack Frost banishes fear by using fun. Fear is what causes the church to turn good news into bad news. Fear is often at the root of injustice. Fear holds us captive in many ways. Perhaps the church could use fun to turn good news back into good news and set us free.
by Sheri Ellwood
by Sheri Ellwood