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Worship Materials: Reverence and Humor

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

THEME:            The unmasking of the unreal


  1. Practice noticing what is humorous and on reflection you will be able to fill your life with laughter.
  2. The person who can laugh at disaster has conquered it.
  3. Laughter breaks the cycle of worry.
  4. From laughter, to silence, to prayer.
  5. If you can laugh in the presence of God you will know that your spirituality is totally healing and divine.
  6. Laughter and awe are two faces of the one experience of divinity.
  7. Make sure that when you laugh at God it is only your image of God and not the mystery itself.
  8. Do not take words too seriously.
    Play with them and in that play hear God speaking.
  9. It is better for mental health to take yourself hilariously rather than too seriously!
  10. To laugh at others is a sign of weakness,
    to laugh at oneself is a sign of strength,
    to laugh with others is a sign of at oneness.
  11. There is such a thing as reverent humor and also such a thing as irreverent seriousness.
  12. One of the secrets of life is to transform what has to be done into a pageant of playfulness.
  13. Wisdom does not consist of becoming more and more serious but in knowing when to laugh, when to wonder and when to do both together.
  14. The beginning of wisdom is to laugh at oneself.
    The goal of wisdom is to laugh with God.
  15. This world will not be a safe place for all human beings until power is in the hands of people who are secure enough to be able to laugh at themselves and the institutions they control.
  16. Foolishness lies in viewing other people as fools.
  17. Peace without humor is little more than a narrow-minded tyranny.
  18. The clown is a healer who can help save us from suffocating on our own solemnity.
  19. Those who can see how funny other people are without noticing how funny they are themselves have missed the point of the joke!
  20. It is easier to laugh at one’s humanity than to laugh at one’s divinity but it is only the latter people who can safely be entrusted with power.
  21. If you want to change the world make sure that you do not exterminate all the clowns in the process and thereby create a grimfaced tyranny.
  22. I bowed to God and God winked at me and I knew that we were friends.
  23. When work and play are as one all life shall be creative holy fun.
  24. The saint is a mystical clown!



Liberate us, O God, from that intensity of belief which prevents us
from laughing at our most sacred causes and grant that by using
your gift of humor wisely, we may increasingly be able to distinguish
between what is pretence and what is reality.

O God, who comes to us as both the holy fool and the solemn sage,
help us to hold in balance our humor and our intensity,
that we may neither relapse into destructive humor
nor irrelevant abstraction.
This we pray through the Spirit of liveliness
who invites us all to join life’s sacred dance.

O God, lighten our solemnity with laughter, our boredom with dancing and turn our work into joyful play; for you are the God of humor and the source of all playful creativity.

O God of work and play, give us both your humor and your sense of   purpose that all our actions may reflect your justice and your joy.



I’m on the road to nowhere. (BL)

There’s a beautiful place in our minds. (BL)

When we find beauty. (BL)

The darkness and the light. (BL)

Not every day. (BL)

If you want to be happy. (Beatitudes) (BL)

How liberated are those. (Beatitudes chant) (BL & SE/MU)


There shall be life and love.

God gives the song.

The spring will come again.

How happy are those. (Beatitudes) (SE/MU)


CHORUSES (children’s)

Give me laughter.

Life is for living now. (SYSJ)

Blow your whistle, beat your drum. (SYSJ)





We experience the profound not so much because we have struggled to find it, but because we have trained our mind to be empty, allowing space for silence and stillness.



Laughter and tears

neighbored in my

uncomfortably attested

and bored mind –

laughter at

the wake

of able people

solemnly, seriously,


playing word games;

tears for their God-given

life-force neutered

by self-imposed sterility.

O God where have all the clowns gone?



Reverence the ancestors but be prepared to laugh at them.

Reverence yourself but also be willing to laugh at yourself.

Reverence the images of God but also allow yourself to laugh at them.

Without reverence we descend into banality.

Without humor we revert into idolatry.

It is usually only those who confuse the image of God

With the mystery of God who react violently

When the image becomes the source of humor.



To play




in touch

with your body

your sense of fun

and delight,

your creativity

and your freedom.

To play is to care

for the CHILD

in your own heart




Life is not something to be clutched at,

hung on to grimly

but something to be lived

with joyous abandon,



played with,


in joyous




I will travel

to that recess

of mind

where ferns unfold

and song birds sing,

allow myself to be nourished

in earth’s cruel and comforting womb

then, reaching skyward

like some forest giant,

tip my crown

and wink

at heaven’s

cosmic brightness.



  1. What are those aspects of my life and belief which I would be most upset about if someone laughed at them?  What deep hurts lie behind my intensity about these matters?
  1. Is my life full of serious people?  If it is how can I make contact with my own inner clown and with other clowns?
  1. Reverence and humor can live together within worship services when the members of the congregation or group are given the opportunity to share their stories within an accepting environment.  If our worship would be shattered by such a mixture of the serious and the hilarious then perhaps we should examine how profound our seriousness really is for true profundity can hold everything together whereas superficial profundity cannot.  Is there a way in which I can help my congregation or group to achieve a better balance between the humorous and the serious?

Celebrating Mystery Logo

LOGO NOTE: At the heart of the mystery all the separate boxes disappear and all is one, all is love.

Text and graphic © William Livingstone Wallace but available for free use.


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