When jokes fall flat

A particular Minister friend has a wonderful dry wit but, sadly, his congregation usually don’t “get it”; often he has to explain one of his funnies made from the pulpit. His wife gets more and more embarrassed, she says, as his explanation of the humorous remark gets more complicated and convoluted – and, as a result, the whole flow of his Address is lost.


Some folk “don’t get it”

Once when visiting parishioners in the old RIE (Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) I went into the WVS canteen and asked for “a pint and a packet of cheese and onion crisps, please”  The reply I received from the lovely but humourless lady behind the counter was “I’m sorry, Reverend (I was wearing my dog-collar) but we don’t sell alcohol”


On a couple of occasions, I announced from the pulpit “The Rev X will be taking the service next Sunday…. I will be at St Giles Cathedral preaching as sole nominee”   Silence and one or two intakes of breath.


Another announcement:  “I need strippers and scrubbers”  (gasp)  – pause – ” to help get the old paint off the church hall and to scrub down the walls in order to redecorate”


Pre wedding ceremony –  in vestry with best man and groom (looking nervous). To the latter  “Did you remember to memorise the words of your vows?”  I thought one bridegroom was going to throw up – he looked so terrified


Following a children’s story, we once sang the hymn “Far off I see the goal” which I dedicated to Hearts miserable game the day before.  One could almost sense a lot of adults in the congregation saying “Eh?”


Visiting a large hospital, stopped a nurse in a corridor and asked “how far is it from here to maternity?”  Nice lassie that was, gave me detailed instructions, without smiling.


I once preached for the fist five or six minutes on the teleological argument for the existence of God**, using Paley’s illustration of the watch and watchmaker and then ended up by saying “but you can shoot holes in that logic, so let’s move onto something else” (without explaining what the “holes” were)

** In the Middle Ages, the Islamic philosopher Averroes introduced a teleological argument. Later, a teleological argument is the fifth of Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways, his rational proofs for the existence of God. The teleological argument was continued by empiricists in the 17th and 18th centuries, who believed that the order in the world suggested the existence of God. William Paley developed these ideas with his version of the watch maker analogy. He argued that in the same way a watch’s complexity implies the existence of its maker, so too, one may infer the Creator of the universe exists, given the evident complexity of Nature. This argument resonates with a notion of the fine-tuned Universe, understood as an alternative to the anthropic principle.

There have been numerous criticisms of the different versions of the teleological argument. Commonly, critics argue that any implied designer need not have the qualities commonly attributed to the God of classical theism. Moreover, there is a great diversity of spiritual and religious beliefs concerning the identity and attributes of such a Creator, which change from one society to another and from one period of human history to another.


see too this post from 6 May 2012:

The Meenister’s Log

in the 1980s I was the minister in a beautiful part of Perthshire – one Sunday, for the children’s story in Church, I decided to “use” our twelve week-old puppy, Jamie, as a sort of visual aid. Helen and I decided that they should hide in the vestry until the kids’ slot, so we arrived quite early at the kirk. Unfortunately, a faithful old member got there before us. She looked quizzically at me, at H, and with the pup in her arms – and was obviously puzzled; Helen looked at her & – deadpan – said “we’ve brought him to be baptised” – to which the dear old lady replied “oh, that’s awffy nice”

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s