• frleetaylor

Vicars LOL as well

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

"You're a breath of fresh air".. "That would make me want to go to church".. I've heard these comments many times over the years whenever I have incorporated a touch of humour in a sermon or bible study. Indeed, these were the exact comments of the Britain's Got Talent judges when Baptist Minister and comedian, Allan Finnegan, appeared on stage earlier this year. Finnegan joked about having to learn Greek while he was training for ministry and said that, up until then, the only Greek he had known was 'Stavros, who does my kebab'. Personally, I thought he was very good and I enjoyed his laid back Liverpudlian style. He made me LOL.

I was sorry to hear that he was criticised for referring to some of the funny and sometimes absurd things that can happen at funerals.

Give him a break folks!

Freud said that a high appreciation of death humour was a mark of maturity. Even psychologists advise that a sense of humour is an important strength for coping with the challenges of life.

In the BGT finals, the zany comedian Steve Royale (who I went to see in Eastbourne when he played famous music hall performer Dan Leno) said, “I’ll never forget my granddads last words to me: ‘stop shakin that ladder’”

In the early days of cinema, a distant American relative of mine died in the cinema laughing at a Buster Keaton movie. I LOL every time I hear or tell this story.

A few years ago I was officiating at my Great Aunts funeral which was very difficult and I was wondering how I would get through the service. I noticed a group of people in the front pew I didn’t recognise as family or even friends of the family. I couldn’t help but notice that they got fidgety when I began the service. Eventually, they stood up and one lady said (in her Bolton accent) ‘sorry luv, we’ve come t’ wrong funeral’.

This was perfect timing. Everyone roared with laughter and I felt so much more relaxed and at ease, ready to take the service.

Yes! Everyone LOL at the funeral!

Last year, I attended a tribute lunch at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair for veteran entertainer Tommy Steele. At this event, I had the great pleasure of talking to 'The Welsh Prince of Laughter', Wyn Calvin about humour and the Church. During our conversation I told him that I was the Vicar of Llangollen (trying my best as a Welsh learner to get my tongue around the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative, which is the 'LL'). After spraying him with a little spittle, he replied, 'Well, I hope you get better soon.'

Following a wedding at Trevor Chapel (one of my four churches) last year, I was very kindly invited to the wedding reception at Trevor Hall. During dinner someone said 'F**k' and then looking over at me while feigning embarrassment said, ‘Sorry Padre’. I then replied, ‘Do you mind. Please don’t swear [pause] I’m a 'F***ing Vicar’. There was an explosion of laughter. The context for my response, I believe, was just right for that moment and the people I was seated with. Yes! Vicars are human beings too capable of joining in with mirth and merriment.

I've really enjoyed reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Kimmerer talks about her memories as a child of growing up and enjoying the sight of her favourite two flowers in the fields: Goldenrods and Asters. Two beautiful but very different flowers of gold and purple: royal colours. She asks the question, 'Why does these particular pair of flowers grow together side by side when they could grow alone?' 'Why are two flowers so beautiful together and what is the source of this pattern?' As a plant scientist and lover of beauty she talks about the frustration she has when trying to balance the differences between beauty and perception; taste and scientific facts. She admits that her natural inclination is to see relationships in all things; threads that connect the world; that join together instead of dividing. She wonders whether science and traditional (indigenous) knowledge might be purple and yellow to one another; might they be Goldenrods and Asters? She argues that we see the world more fully we use both. 'The pairing of purple and gold is lived reciprocity,' she says. For example, science and art, science and religion, matter and spirit. I particularly like the way she says, 'The beauty of one is illuminated by the radiance of the other'.

I think this is true of laughter and the life of faith. The two go together. To live the Christian life is to live life in joy! Joy is one of the charisms of the Holy Spirit.

So yes, there are Vicars, like myself, who LOL (Laugh out Loud)!

Here is a Vicar comedy song that I sung at my farewell party at Croydon Minster in 2018. It was written and composed by Clifford Grey & Nat Ayer.

Dear Friends, I'm the Curate of Slushford-on-Creek,

My name is the Reverend Septimus Meek,

The Vicar and I work so hard as a rule,

To-day there's a meeting at our Infant School.

Refrain: And the Vicar and I will be there,

For we are an industrious pair,

The mothers of course at the meeting will be,

At twenty past two they'll be handing out tea,

And a silver collection is taken at three,

So the Vicar and I will be there.

I'm awfully sorry for poor Mrs. Jones,

They say she has terrible pains in her bones,

She lives all alone, and she suffers I fear,

But to-morrow some friends will be calling I hear.

Refrain:And the Vicar and I will be there,

For we are an industrious pair,

They will bring her much joy, she'll forget all her pain,

With flowers and fruit she'll be quite well again,

And the Squire is sending a case of champagne,

So the Vicar and I will be there.

Katherine Perkins is our village belle,

I fear me alas - still no matter - ah well,

But let us rejoice for this maiden serene,

Will be married to-morrow to Samuel Green.

Refrain:And the Vicar and I will be there,

For we are an industrious pair,

The bride will look sweet as she walks down the floor,

But still in the throng - though the fact she'll ignore,

Will be several fellows who've kissed her before,

And the Vicar and I will be there.

The Town Hall next week we have taken you see,

We're giving the wounded some afternoon tea,

And Lady Fitzgargle - you heard her before,

Is giving us music from three until four.

Refrain:And the Vicar and I will be there,

For we are an industrious pair,

She means very well, but she's hardly a Star,

And soon as she sings and they hear her afar,

Quite a lot of those boys will retreat to the bar,

And the Vicar and I will be there.

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