The Christianity many of us grew up with was not big on laughs. My childhood parish priest seemed determined to make sure we were suitably miserable. Fun was equated with self-indulgence – all too likely to carry us away into the path of sin. The eleventh commandment was ‘Thou shalt not laugh, nor enjoy thyself’.
The hangover of that upbringing is that I have sometimes struggled to allow myself to enjoy life. The notion that God is a spoiler is not one I adhere to rationally but somewhere inside that image of God must linger. And yet when I remember some of the moments of deep fun that I have known I see how they abound with love, friendship, wonder, energy, and liberation: and as I put themselves back into those times I sense the presence, joy and life of God.
- Sledging down the snow covered slopes of Greenwich Park while the ambulances circled below
- Playing foot ball with my nephews in a muddy field
- Losing myself in working with clay and not minding too much what shape I came up with
- Making music with a group using my three and a half chords on a guitar
- Going swimming on the spur of the moment with my sister in West Wales
- Being thrown around at a barn dance without really having much clue what steps I was supposed to be making.
What moments do you remember?
Fun can have its downsides. Making fun of another at their expense is destructive. Thrill seeking can be addictive and self-centred. But these are perversions of what is essentially good and of God.
It is through fun that we lose our self-consciousness and allow ourselves to run free.
Walls of polite distance or even hostility between people evaporate in shared laughter.
Bonds of friendship are forged.
We stop taking ourselves too seriously – as if everything depended on our performance
We discover that we are creative after all – and all we needed was the opportunity and the courage to dare to express ourselves.
We delight in life, in the company of those with us and are completely held in the moment, putting aside our fears and preoccupations.
These are good moments, God moments.
In our churches and within our neighbourhoods,
in our tired lives, and amidst our difficulties
it is time to have fun!