One of the reasons I love eating out is meeting people at other tables in restaurants.
It’s not like I’m staring at them, but when I look around the room, I’m happy to see them playing happily.
Eating out can be a special occasion, but even when it’s not, it’s fun to get away from home, work, and ideally, worry. When friends and family get together and eat enchiladas and shrimp or even burgers made by someone else, the diner’s smile shows that troubles are often forgotten, at least temporarily. I like to see
The same goes for other escapes, such as movies in theaters, basketball games, and concerts. Most of us have a place to take a break from the monotonous and sometimes difficult daily life. It’s heartwarming to see a couple laugh as they end a funny movie, or someone boot scooting at a wedding reception.
The Bible doesn’t say much about what Jesus enjoyed, but some of his stories and teachings hint at humor. I’m no expert on ancient languages, but according to “Father Tim” of clergyconfidential.com, Jesus’ criticism of religious leaders in Matthew 23:24 – “You strain gnats and swallow camels” – has a kind of contains puns. In Aramaic, gnat is garma and camel is gamla. The English translation is a little less ironic.
He was at a wedding when Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine. It is hard to imagine that he did not participate in Jewish festivals.
We are in the month of the Christmas party. I’ve been to him three times this December and I couldn’t help but look over the many faces of joy. We laughed off our poor bowling at my wife’s company party. It was nice to meet my colleague and her husband. I also learned that they are active in a local church.
She and her mother volunteer at the Amarillo SPCA animal shelter, and those associated with the organization spend a year doing the important work of rescuing dogs and cats. But at her SPCA Christmas party, she guessed how many M&Ms were in the container and smiled broadly in the group photo taken by the restaurant waiter.
I was also happy when I received an unexpected gift from an animal shelter volunteer.
I have worked with mass media students at Amarillo College for 25 years, so every year I am invited to a lunchtime party with media students and faculty. It’s rewarding to see young people enjoying an hour or two away from writing news articles, editing videos, and studying for final exams.
Some college students are confident and head of the party when gifts are exchanged, while more shy students get insecure on their faces when they see their teachers being silly and playful. Tend to have a facial expression. Who wouldn’t laugh if one gift was a box of stones, each with a small amount of cash taped to it?
The Hebrew scriptures, the Old Testament, refer more to laughter than the New Testament, and Jesus, whose life is described in the New Testament, certainly quoted and endorsed the Old Testament. The Book of Job, which can be depressing at times, contains the following verses:
Here are some famous words from Ecclesiastes 8:15: Then there will be joy in their toil during the days of the life that God has given them under the sun. ”
Of course, many of Jesus’ messages are deeply problematic. But Christmas is one of those times when we can eat, drink, and rejoice, and for good reason. The God in whom we are made has visited us directly with good news for all.
Take his word for it and you’ll smile even in times of fear and uncertainty.
Mike Haynes taught journalism at Amarillo College from 1991 to 2016 and has been writing for the Faith Section since 1997. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more recent columns, visit www.haynescolumn.blogspot.com.