No - this isn't a picture of Parliament from last night's latest Brexit Fiasco; every year clowns from all over the world gather in February to honour the memory of the most-famous clown of all, Joseph Grimaldi.
Someone who used his skill of clowning in his priesthood was The Revd.Roly Bain, who sadly died in 2016.
In his obituary in "The Economist" -
"His opening invocation was,
“Let us play!” He performed in parishes, conference halls, prisons, schools and hospitals all over Britain, Europe, America and Australia, clocking up thousands of miles and becoming, in the process, Britain’s only full-time clown-priest. Since 1990, when life as a vicar in south London got a bit dull and he went off for circus training, he had stopped celebrating formal Eucharists to celebrate play and craziness instead. At his services sermons were limericks, prayers went up in clouds of bubbles (when they burst, God had heard them), and at the Peace the congregation were encouraged to shout “Cooeee!” and flap their hands like seals. It was all very un-Anglican!"
Jesus had a great sense of humour, and I’m sure that it was his gift of making people laugh at the human condition, at the pompous, and at themselves, that made people listen to Him.
Some of His teaching was wrapped in the sense of the ridiculous - "You know, it's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a man with too much baggage to enter the kingdom of heaven." They got the joke, and everyone laughed.
When Peter tried to walk on water as Jesus did, but sunk like a sieve, you can imagine Jesus and the others splitting their sides laughing as they pulled soaking-wet Peter back into the boat.
You don't get invited to as many parties as Jesus did unless people find you interesting company. The artist Alphonso Doss says of his painting "The First Supper"
"When I saw 'The Last Supper' by Leonardo, I thought about the first supper and imagined how the situation would have been. I was sure that as Christ was human and divine he must have had the quality of humour and wit in him
and would have shared this with his followers."
LITURGICAL RESOURCES FOR COMIC RELIEF
we come into your presence, longing to be surprised.
We thank you that you have given to us
the gift of laughter and delight.
These things give hints
as to the nature of your purpose for us
and for all the earth.
May we find that in giving up to laughter
there is healing, hope, abundance and blessing.
Tickle our souls with the brush of your Spirit
to renew our worship and our living. Amen.
from the United Church of Canada’s Bay of Quinte Conference website. http://www.bayofquinteconference.ca/
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
You know better than we do, Amused God,
what important people we believe we are.
Believing we have to be serious all the time,
we miss out on the joy of your creation.
Choosing to feast on the pain of the world,
we skip the picnic offered in paradise.
Clinging to the despair which is our best friend,
we ignore Jesus.
who can bring us home to your heart.
Forgive us, Heart of Joy,
and make us open to the startling, and upside-down, ways
in which you work. Fill us with Easter's laughter;
fill us with your healing joy;
fill us with the love poured into us
through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
The Gospels tell us over and over again of the joy which comes to us through Christ. When Jesus was around, lives were changed, the sick were healed, the sorrowful began to laugh with joy. The good news is that this joy is now given to us.
Through the Holy Spirit, we are gifted with joy.
We are sent forth to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bring healing to the broken,
to anoint everyone with the oil of gladness. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.
— written by Thom Shuman, on his excellent Lectionary Liturgies blog.
Jesus, Source of joy and laughter,
as I stumble through this life,
help me to create more laughter than tears, dispense more happiness than gloom, spread more cheer than despair.
Never let me become so indifferent
that I will fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child or the twinkle in the eyes of the elderly.
Never let me forget that my best effort is to cheer people, make them happy, to laugh in the face of all that is harmful,and to put life into true perspective.
And, Lord in my final moment, may I hear you whisper:
“When you made My people smile,
you made Me smile.”
“The Clown’s Prayer” of Smiles Unlimited, a clown ministry in hospitals,
nursing homes, and prisons, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Loving God, we give You thanks and praise
for the calling You have given to each of us,
the call to find new ways of being,
new ways of loving,
new ways of living,
we give You thanks for Your call
to love the world and to change it.
We remember One who was not afraid to be different,
Jesus, the Clown of Glory, who tumbles, juggles and leads us
through dance, song, play and music,
into the glorious realm of equality, love and justice.
We remember the night when he was betrayed,
as he shared Passover with his friends.
During the meal he took bread, blessed it, broke it
and gave it to his friends saying:
“Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body, the bread of life,
which is given for you;
do this, and make me real in your lives.”
In the same way after supper, he took the cup filled with wine,
gave thanks and gave it to his friends saying:
“Take this all of you and drink from it, for this is my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting promise of God,
the new wine for you and for all.
Do this, and make me real in your lives.”
Come Holy Spirit of God,
Spirit of joy, integrity, tenderness and vibrancy;
invigorate this bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus,
whose love and life we seek to share.
Transform us also into truly being Christ’s body,
the hands, the feet and the heart of Jesus, to love and to serve;
and give us the passion and the energy
to conform our world into Your Kingdom.
This we ask, through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus. Amen