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    It's No Joke...

Family Service Talk for Harvest Festival by
The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman
6th October 2002

Who knows any good jokes?

From one of the children:

There were two people sitting in front of one big cake. One of them cut it into two so that there was one big piece and one small piece. The other reached out and took the largest piece. The first person said - 'If I'd been you, I would have taken the smallest piece.' The second one looked at him and said, 'What's the problem? You've got the smallest piece!'

There's been some research over the last year to find the world's funniest joke

Does anyone know what it was?

Two men went hunting in the forest. Suddenly one of them dropped down to the ground and lay there, not moving. The other, fortunately, had his mobile phone. He phoned the emergency services. 'I need some help,' he said. 'I've come out hunting with my friend. We're in the middle of the forest. And he's collapsed. I think he's dead. What do I do?'

The medic on the phone said, 'Well the first thing to do, is to make sure that he's dead.' The medic heard the hunter put the phone down. There was a pause, then a loud bang. Then the hunter's voice said, ' Okay. He's definitely dead. Now what do I do?'

Have you ever though what makes a joke funny?

Often it's that something unexpected or something with a different meaning happens at the end of the joke, it has a twist in the tail.

Or something that means on thing in one situation but means something very different in the situation of the joke.

Jesus told stories like that.

In today's reading he talks about some people who were supposed to look after a harvest for someone else while that person was away. (Matt 21:33-46)

But the people who were supposed to take care of it didn't.

They killed the owner's servants when they came for the harvest and even killed the owner's son when he came for the harvest, and stole the harvest for themselves.

They weren't grateful for what they had and they weren't using it wisely.

Jesus then asks the religious rulers of the time 'What should happen to the people who were looking after the harvest?'

They should be thrown out and the vineyard given to people who would use what they had got wisely and share it with others, they said.

And the surprise that Jesus had in store was that he then said to the religious rulers that the story was about them and that they hadn't looked after the harvest of the Kingdom of God wisely and rather than sharing the good news with others they were making it difficult to follow God.

So the responsibility of looking after it would be taken away from them. 

The reading is appropriate for Harvest because harvest is a time when we can say thank you to God for all that He has given us.

It's also a reminder that we need to share what we have with others around us, especially those who are less fortunate than ourselves

And like the people Jesus was talking about in the bible passage, as His friends giving thanks for what we have and sharing it with others is part of our responsibility

And that's no joke.

Because one day, just like the Scribes and the Pharisees, we'll be called to give an account to God about how we have looked after His world and the gifts He has given us

Bible Readings and Notes and Intercessions for Harvest Festival, 6th October 2002

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