“Oprah, Is that You?”

Do you see this photograph? This is the aquaduct at Caesarea Maritma, one of my favorite places on earth.  Honestly, if money was no object I 280would live in Caesarea Maritima.  The day I visited the amazing feat of ancient engineering depicted in this photo I was accompanied by a lot of people I love.  They were the members of my former church, a diverse body of believers who are beautifully deliberate about experiencing the Kingdom of God across the lines of race and social status.  We were a joyful bunch and there was a lot of laughter on our trip but none more than that day when we stepped onto the sand into the shadow of Herod the Great’s magnificent aqueduct.  There was a group of Palestinian school children walking along the top of the ancient ruin (scary!) and when they spotted us they began to call out there greetings in English and Hebrew.

“Hello! Hello!”


Then, one overly excited child who obviously watches too much American TV spotted a certain African American woman in our group and began calling to her in earnest.

“Oprah Winfrey!  Oprah Winfrey!  Hello, I watch you on TV!”

Priceless.  She didn’t live that one down the rest of the trip.  As a matter of fact, she didn’t even try.  Several days later when we were on a boat in the Sea of Galilee she spread her arms wide and proclaimed with great pomp-

“I am Oprah Winfrey and I own this lake!”

Laughter, joy, outright hilarity… Do you believe these are wrapped up in the heart of God?  I do.  It has taken me an awful long time to get there but I believe it is true.  One of my favorite theologian/philosophers Reinhold Niebuhr had this to say about laughter and faith…

“Humour is, in fact, a prelude to faith; and laughter is the beginning of prayer. Laughter must be heard in the outer courts of religion, and the echoes of it should resound in the sanctuary; but there is no laughter in the holy of holies. There laughter is swallowed up in prayer and humour is fulfilled by faith.

The intimate relation between humour and faith is derived from the fact that both deal with the incongruities of our existence. … Laughter is our reaction to immediate incongruities and those which do not affect us essentially. Faith is the only possible response to the ultimate incongruities of existence, which threaten the very meaning of our life.” -Reinhold Niebuhr

I wish you joy today..

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