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Lighten Up

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time God brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time God will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. ~ Isaiah 9:1

Most of what we find humorous about birds is a matter of anthropomorphism. That is, the behavior would be funny if they were thinking and acting like humans. How do we actually know if they are happy? They can’t smile and the calls that might sound like laughter to us are basic communication for them. We can’t really say for sure if what we observe as play is something that they are doing “just for fun.” Swallows often congregate in large numbers before migrating. Sometimes in the assembly of thousands of birds on the wing, they will engage in what appears to be a game. One bird will drop a feather and while it is floating in the air, another will snag it, carry it for a while and then drop it for another to catch. You can imagine the fancy aerial maneuvers this creates. You can also easily imagine two teams of sparrows fiercely competing in a major league level sport of feather dropping. The bottom line is that it looks like it would be a blast and thus easy to imagine that they are having fun. On the other hand, they may simply be honing their skills in order to catch those hundreds of tiny insects they need to make up a meal, but where’s the fun in that?

Someone captured video of a crow sliding down a roof multiple times on a plastic lid. The crow does peck at it a few times, so perhaps it was attempting to remove food from it. But it is hard not to see a kid with a sled just having a good time when you watch it. And why not? Why shouldn’t there be joy in the midst of the mundane or even the difficult? A good practice to get through a chore that you really could do without is to make a game of it. Use the soap bubbles to get a laugh from someone by making them into a fake beard. Or shovel patterns in the snow as you clear the driveway to keep it interesting.

Too much of contemporary theology builds off the premise that we are unworthy sinners and thus deserve to be miserable. But if God created us good and rejoices over us (spoiler alert, God did and does) then there is a clearly a central place for joy in our lives. So play a little and let your laughter bring a smile to God’s face.

Prayer: Great Weather-maker, how about a snowball fight? Amen


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