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Devotion April 15 -- "The Feast of Laughter"

There is a wonderful tradition within the Russian Orthodox church. On Easter afternoon, after the long Lent and Holy Week season, all the priests and monks, who are normally a rather very staid and reserved group – get together in a monastery, pull out bottles of wine, set forth a feast of meat, cheese and bread on the table and spend the rest of the day, eating, drinking, and telling jokes. Why? To laugh at death. It is their traditions way of letting death know it not only does not have the last word in their lives, or the lives of those they minister too, but it isn’t even strong enough to withstands the derision they give it. When they say, “O Death where is thy victory” – they raise their glasses in laughter. When they say, “O death where is they sting” – they tell another joke. I love that! So, here is my little way of sharing that tradition with you after our long journey with Jesus to the cross and beyond: George Burns, the great comedian, known for the way he could tell a joke, was once asked what the secret of a good sermon was. He replied, “A sermon has to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” A funeral service was being held in a church for a woman who has just passed away. At the end of the service, the pallbearers carrying the casket accidentally bump into a wall jarring the casket. They heard a faint moan. They opened the casket and found that the women was actually alive. She lives for 10 more years and then dies. A funeral service is again held at the church, and at the end as the pallbearers are again carrying the casket out, the husband calls out, “Watch out for the wall!” A priest and a rabbi are in a car crash and it’s a bad one. Both of their cars are demolished but amazingly neither one of them is hurt. After they crawl out of their cars, the rabbi says, “So you’re a priest. That’s interesting; I’m a rabbi. Wow, just look at our cars! There’s nothing left, but we’re unhurt. This must be a sign from God that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace.” The priest replies, “Oh, yes, I agree. It’s a miracle that we survived and are here together.” “And here's another miracle,” says the rabbi. “My car is destroyed but this bottle of wine didn’t break. Surely God wants us to drink the wine and celebrate our good fortune,” he says, handing the bottle to the priest. The priest nods in agreement, opens the wine, drinks half of it, and hands it back to the rabbi. The rabbi takes it and puts the cap back on. “Aren’t you going to have any?” asks the priest. “Not right now,” says the rabbi. “I think I’ll wait until after the police make their report.” Today, celebrate the fact that death – which the Apostle Paul calls “the last enemy” – has been defeated. We can now live our lives in the freedom, and joy, of knowing that nothing, nothing at all, can ever separate us from the love that we find in Jesus Christ our risen Lord! Have a good laugh at death’s expense!!! ~Christ is risen! Alleluia! Pastor Dan

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