Thanks, Chris, for the great resources for Holy Humor Sunday
“The Church, the Ark and the Stench”
“To the church of God that is in Corinth…” I Corinthians 1:2a.
Q. How did Luther compare the church to Noah’s Ark?
A. “If it wasn’t for the storm outside, you couldn’t stand the stench inside.” (Genesis 6:8-9) (Section # 8)
Certain preachers have called Luther’s statement “cynical.” I believe it is quite biblical. Anther question in the catechism that teaches the same basic truth is found under the section on Human Guilt.
Q. What happens when you join the perfect church?
A. You ruin it. (Matthew 13:24-30/HC Q # 114 & 115) (Section # 2)
Modern Christians tend to romanticize the church. In the 1970’s I was part of a group seeking to start a “New Testament Church.” We forget that St. Paul addressed a disorderly, morally lax, super-spiritual and factional church as “the Church of God which is in Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.” (I Corinthians 1:2, KJV) Augustine and Zwingli were right; the New Testament Church was far from perfect!
A man was reading a newspaper story to his wife about the cashier who ran away with a million dollars, one of the bank’s limousines and the bank’s wife. The man’s wife turned to him and said, “I wonder who we’ll get to teach Sunday School class this week?”
The old proverb states it very well, “The church is not a palace for saints, but a hospital for sinners.” Sometime visit an AA group or a NA group and you will hear people practice what church people sometimes forget to practice, humility! In AA people identify themselves in this manner, “My name is John. I am an alcoholic.” It is interesting that the introduction, “My name is John. I am a sinner” is not popular in churches.
Often when the church tries to fulfill the Great Commission it still fails. One pastor and his ruling elders went to all the trouble to get a parishioner a suit so that he would not be embarrassed about not dressing well for church. Yet the man still did not come to church on Sunday. When the pastor visited the man and asked him what happened the man said, “When I put on the suit I looked in the mirror and said to my wife, “Doggone, I look good enough to be Episcopalian!”
Someone once said to a friend of mine that he would not go to the church because it was filled with hypocrites. My friend answered, “Well there is always room for one more.” This is what is clear in scripture and in church history, we are all hypocrites. We are all sinners. We all need the church. We all need each other. It is when people think they are perfect and better than others that we see the beginnings of cults as in the sermon “Fruit or Nuts?”
Once there was a man named Sam who had a little too much to drink. He was on his hands and knees underneath a streetlamp searching the side walk. A friend came by and asked, “Sam, what are you doing out here on your hands and knees?”
Sam answered, “I’m hunting for my house key.” The friend said, “Show me where you lost them and I’ll help you.” Sam replied, “Oh I lost them over there in the grass.” The friend then asked “Then why in the world are you looking for it over here on the side walk?” Sam replied, “Because this is where the light is.” (Mules Eggs and Topknots King Duncan, p. 41)
I think this is a helpful way to look at the church. We come to church because we have lost something. We might not understand what it is but we are convinced that this is the place where there is light. We are right for Jesus said that the church was both “light” and “salt.”
Another part of the catechism asks the question:
Q. What is missing in this word, CH--CH?
A. UR. (Section # 8)
(from God Is Still Laughing II: Aid to the Revised Heidelberg Catechism Joke Book)
Please look carefully at the sign in this church:
"Under new management."
This is not trick photography.
We saw this when my wife and her sister
were visiting their old high school, Kenmore East,
in the Town of Tonawanda, New York.