Waynedale United Methodist Church
Monday, March 30, 2020
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!

April 12, 2015 Sermon

“A God Who Celebrates”
Luke 15:11 – 32

Ted Jansen  April 12, 2015  Waynedale UMC


1.)        Jesus told some stories one day while the “sinners” and the “religious” people were listening.  The “religious” people did not like the fact that Jesus was with the sinners and even ate with them.  I believe that Jesus’ stories were about both sinners, people who thought they were religious and God’s grace.     

            He told a story about a man who lost a sheep and a woman who lost a coin.  He ends those stories with the shepherd and woman rejoicing when they found what as lost.  Then Jesus told the story that is often called “The Prodigal Son.”  But this story is about two sons isn’t it. 

I want us to consider this story and focus on the father.   This is the story of the Father who celebrates.  Could it be that this story is a story of a God who celebrates?  


2.)        What do we know about the father in this story?  We know several things from the scripture.  We know:              The Father had two sons.  He had two that we need to remember.  (verse 11).   

The Father had resources.  He had an estate and he had hired men.  (verse 12, 19) 

                        The Father had a spirit of generosity.  He gave both sons their share of the estate.  He wanted to put the best robe on his son, a ring and sandals when he came home. (verse 12, 22)

                        The Father had a heart to celebrate.  He was willing to kill the fattened calf for a party.  Everything the father had was available for the son who stayed at home.  The son who returned, and was found, was reason for a celebration, according to the father.  (verse 23, 31, 32)

            I want to focus on the last point in that the father had a heart to celebrate.             


3.)        In this story Jesus uses the word celebrate.  We had to celebrate, they began to celebrate, let’s celebrate, are the phrases that were used.  In the Greek language the word is euphraino.  This term is used only in this story in the Gospels.  There is another word, eucharisteo, from where we get the word eucharist, which has a sense of giving thanks.  This word eucharisteo has a theological sense to it.  We give thanks for God’s grace and presence and blessing.  The word has joy, thanks and God connected to its meaning. 

The word that Jesus used in describing celebration was eupharaino.   This word had no theological sense or connection to it.   I gleaned from the commentaries that this was a word for fun.  It had no theological, God, connection.  It meant clean, wholesome fun.  Fun that lifts you up and when you experience it you feel good.  Fun is enjoying laughter for laughter sake.   


4.)        The father in this story had two sons, had resources, had a generous heart and wanted to have fun.  Could we believe that we serve a God who enjoys fun?  Dare we believe that fun and laughter that is unconditional can be a gift of joy that God gives us?    

            Humor, fun, joy can actually bring health.  There are studies and articles that outline how humor helps us in physical, emotional and spiritual ways.  

            In an article on the “Benefits of Humor” (This Emotional Life website) these benefits were identified; reduced pain, reduced stress, increased relaxation response, increased creativity, enhanced memory, elevated mood, increased hope, optimism, energy, bonding friends and family, closer relationships.       “Laughing out loud, being quietly amused, anticipating something funny, and even forcing a smile or chuckle can all lead to increase in positive emotions.”  


5.)        We journey with Christ in Holy Week from the Palm Parade to the Upper Room and His crucifixion and burial.  Then we are surprised at His resurrection and might not be sure what the future holds.   The week after we realize that Jesus is alive and we can continue to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  God laughs at darkness, death, Satan, and despair.      

            Let us laugh like the Father who celebrated.  Let us laugh like our God who would not see Jesus, His only Son, be bound by death.  Let us laugh for our health.  Let us laugh so that we might have fun.   


6.)        (Nancy Reuille)  Researchers for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority found over 200 dead crows near greater Boston recently, and there was concern that they may have died from Avian Flu.

             A Bird Pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and, to everyone's relief, confirmed the problem was definitely NOT Avian Flu.

            The cause of death appeared to be vehicular impacts.

            However, during the detailed analysis it was noted that varying colors of paints appeared on the bird's beaks and claws. By analyzing these paint residues it was determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, while 2% were killed by an impact with a car.

            MTA then hired an Ornithological Behaviorist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills.

            The Ornithological Behaviorist very quickly concluded the cause: when crows eat road kill, they always have a look-out crow nearby to warn of impending danger. They discovered that while all the lookout crows could shout "Cah", not a single one could shout "Truck."


            (Tim Marsh)    What do they call pastors in Germany?   German Shepherds

  What kind of cars are mentioned in the Bible?  God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury.  David’s Triumph was heard throughout the land.  The Apostles were all in one Accord.  


(Lynn and Berneice Henschen)  Have you ever been guilty of looking at others your own age and thinking, surely I can't look that old.

My name is Mary, and I was sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist. I noticed his diploma on the wall, which bore his full name. Suddenly, I remembered a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy with the same name had been in my high school class some 30-odd years ago. Could he be the same guy that I had a secret crush on way back then?

Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought. This balding, gray-haired man with the deeply lined face was way too old to have been my classmate. After he examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended Morgan Park High School.

"Yes. Yes, I did. I'm a mustang," he gleamed with pride.

"When did you graduate?" I asked.

"In 1975. Why do you ask?"

"You were in my class!" I exclaimed.

He looked at me closely. Then, that ugly, old, balding, wrinkled faced, overweight, gray-haired, decrepit jerk asked:  "What did you teach?"


(Denise Rainwaters, Tim Marsh)  A burglar broke into a house late at night. Cautiously he made his way through the pitch black rooms. Suddenly he heard an ominous voice in the darkness, "Jesus is watching you!"

Startled, the burglar stopped for a moment, then hearing nothing more, he continued. After several seconds again, he heard the voice, "Jesus is watching you!"

The burglar stopped in his tracks, turned on his flashlight and in the corner of a room saw a parrot sitting on a perch. With his light shining on the parrot, once again the bird warned, "Jesus is watching you!"

The now unafraid and even disdainful burglar said sarcastically to the parrot, "Can't you say anything else?" At which point the burglar's flashlight picked up the outline of a ferocious Doberman Pincer standing next to the parrot's perch, as the parrot replied, "Sick him, Jesus!"


Here is a video of “Mr Bean” who is in church and trying to sneak some sweets. 


(Chuck Fitch, others)    A woman was reading her bible and a passenger who was an atheist said to her that it was going to be a long flight and we should have a conversation to pass the time.

She said that is fine, what would you like to talk about? The atheist snickers and says: The fact that there is no god, no heaven and hell, and no life after death. Well those are interesting topics, but could I ask you a question first? Sure go ahead.

Well a deer and a cow and a horse all eat grass.  Why does the deer excretes pellets, and a cow excretes paddies and a horse excretes clumps? Why is that?

I don't know said the atheist.  Well, the woman said, what makes you think that you are an expert on the existence of God, Heaven and Hell, and life after death when you don't know do-do.


(Camille Garrison)  Once upon a time there were three sisters, Mary, Ruth and Louise, and they all lived together. The finished supper and Ruth said “I am going upstairs to take a bath.”  They heard Ruth yell out, "Was I getting in the tub or out?" she yelled.

            Mary, hollered back, "I don't know. I'll come and see." She started up the stairs and stopped. She shouted out to Louise, "Was I going up or coming down?"

Louise sitting at the kitchen table having tea, listening to her sister’s shook her head and said, "There but for the grace of God, go I” and knocked her knuckles on the kitchen table for good luck. 

Then she yelled back to Mary and Louise, "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who's at the door."


(Jane Towson)  (Book of Church Jokes)  A Sunday School Teacher was teaching the Ten Commandments to her class of children.   After explaining the commandment to honor your Father and Mother she asked if there was a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters.  Without missing beat a little girl said, “Thou shall not kill.”  

The Sunday School teacher got to the last commandment and wasn’t sure they were able to grasp the words and content.  She asked them what the last commandment was.  A little boy raised his hand and shouted out.   “Thou shall not take the cover off thy neighbor’s wife.”


7.)        Several years ago Kevin gave us “Duck Dynasty.”  It sat in our home for months.  Sue and I had some challenges and stress and there were not a lot of laughs or fun in our lives.  We did not know anything about the videos and decided to watch one show.  It made us laugh and for some reason, unknown to us, other than they made us laugh and we needed that in our lives, we kept watching Duck Dynasty.  In fact, we have watched all six seasons.   It made us laugh.  

            We all need “fun” in our lives.  At times in our relationship Sue would tell me, “Ted, lighten up!”   It was her way of saying, don’t get too serious, and don’t be too hard on yourself.  When you get too serious and too stressed you end up stressing others out as well.   “Lighten up.”  


8.)        The story that Jesus told remind us that one son wandered away and the other son did not realize what his father was like. 

Are you more like the one son who wandered away from the father, or are you more like the son who stayed home but did not realize all that was available from the father?

            We need to see the father who celebrates, who has fun, who wants to laugh.   


9.)        (Carol Buttel) (Booklet) A pastor normally ends a wedding ceremony with the words, “You may kiss the bride”   On one occasion a pastor said, “you may kick the bride!”  

            A friend of Ted’s shared what happened at his daughter’s wedding.  The pastor was praying and wanting to bless the couple.  He wanted to say, “God bless this couple with great success in their marriage.”  But the Pastor said in his prayer, with all the family and friends praying, “God bless this couple with great sex in their marriage.” 


10.)      Joy is letting the God who celebrates bless you.   I need joy.  I need blessing.  I need laughter.   I need new life.  I need fun!   When we laugh the world will want to know why we dare to laugh in the midst of the struggle in life.  We smile, laugh, and celebrate.       


            (Bennett Noel)    A rough looking boy approached a woman on the street and asked her, “Lady, could you give me some money so I can see my family?” 

            “Certainly, the woman replied as she handed him some money.  Where is your family? 

            “At the movies,” the boy answered as he ran off.


11.)      Here are some Church Knock Knock Jokes. 


Prayer: Knock knock, who's there? Lettuce. Lettuce who? Lettuce pray.
Offering: Knock Knock… Phillip. Fill up the plate as it's passed to you.
Scripture reading: Knock Knock… Rita. Read a Bible if you want to hear good news.

Friends:  Knock Knock… Luke. Look all around you at the smiles on your neighbors.
Worship: Knock Knock… Gladys. Glad it's Sunday, aren't you?
Joy:  Knock Knock… Oliver. All of our joys come from the Lord.