Friday, February 22, 2008

Clowning Around

So it started with Locusts and Honey, passed through me at one point, then eventually took a detour here.

This page contains resources related to Trinity Church's Clown Eucharist - links to the full archived service video, related texts and video on the theology behind the service, and an experienced clown minister's thoughts on "how to" do a Clown Eucharist.

As someone who celebrates his wedding anniversary on April 1 (I kid you not), I can certainly appreciate the words of the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

The theological justification advanced is as follows:

It will likely be a surprise to see clowns inside Trinity Church, but think about it this way: how we perceive the world in light of our relationship with Jesus could rightly be called foolish. Jesus looked at things in a new and strange way - a foolish way. But, as St. Paul said, the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the world. Paul declared himself a fool for Christ's sake....

We are all fools of one sort or another. God’s foolishness is light, joy, and life. Man’s foolishness is darkness, despair, and death. In the clown, God has shot from his cannon for us a vivid symbol of divine foolishness.

Clowns represent the underdog, the lowly, the remnant people. Their foolishness is a call to unpretentiousness. They take incredible risks - balancing on tight ropes, eating fire, keeping silent, being poked by others, or getting soaked in water. Clowns are parables in themselves, spending great amounts of energy uncovering small things, then showing forth the hidden treasure of life (like the kingdom of God) and, surprisingly to us, giving their most cherished possessions to others.

OK, I'll grant that clowns are foolish and nice, but is their foolishness of God? When you see a clown, do you see God? Red Stick Rant encourages you to watch a clown communion for yourself.

Now to be fair, the music was presumably not part of the original service, so one should just watch the images. Including the blowing of bubbles about two minutes into the video. I think that Paul was referring to the foolishness of a dead man coming back to life, or the foolishness of someone who was already born being born a second time - not the foolishness of waving your fingers while wearing a Viking helmet.

Actually, the video looks like something from Monty Python. Oh, Red Stick Rant covered that too.

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