“…as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…”
This may sound funny to some of you but whatever happened to whistling? That’s right, whistling. Oh sure, once in a while you might catch someone whistling a bit, but for the most part you just don’t hear it anymore. I can’t account for it completely but I have some idea as to what has happened, and why it matters.
When my great-grandfather was serving his congregation in southwestern Minnesota at the opening of the twentieth century, events in Moscow, Bangkok or pretty much anywhere else in the far-flung world did not preoccupy him if he knew of them at all. The aches and pains of the world which did occupy him were mostly local, very close to home. There was an a kind of immediacy to life. The scale of life was manageable.
Now, over a century later, the aches and pains of the entire world are broadcast into our lives almost instantaneously. Media cultures around the world are rubbing our noses in every imaginable dysfunction, tragedy and outrage. Predictably, the humor of such an age is accompanied by the handmaidens of hopelessness – vulgarity and cynicism. Whistling requires a light touch, an easy-going sense of humor. Why should anyone be whistling in the face of such a chaotic and crazy world? So, my argument is that whistling has become a casualty of the self-polluting of the contemporary human environment. It is a small symptom of a larger illness.
A sense of humor ought to have a place in the Christian life. That’s the real issue. Can we have an authentic sense of humor, devoid of cynicism, in such a world? I think so. It is in the gap between what we are and what we ought to be where both tragedy and comedy dwell. Christians are very much aware of this gap. We know that gap to be the result of sin, our separation from God, one another and the creation. Apart from the framework of that “blessed hope” that is in Christ Jesus, it is hard to face this gap without trending toward cynicism, even despair.
In Christ Jesus God has closed the gap between Himself and our sin. What this means for you as a Christian is that you can face the disparities in your life and the world in the light of God’s grace. Like everything else in the life of faith, both tragedy and comedy are informed and tempered by this grace. This grace enables you to employ both compassion and humor in your dealings with the aches and pains of your own life and this crazy world. And as you reflect on that grace, and all the promise and blessed hope it holds because of Christ Jesus. It may even get you to whistling once in a while!
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”