A pastor has told of being so nervous as he officiated at his brother’s wedding that instead of saying, “Let us pray,” he said, “Let us play.” Actually, it was the perfect thing to say because at the heart of a marriage there should be a playfulness, a delight, a joy. It was the perfect prayer: “Let us play!”
Really, it is a perfect prayer for most all of us any day. We just have this way of running ourselves ragged, working ourselves to death, taking ourselves and everything else so seriously, worrying ourselves sick, and wearing ourselves out until there is little joy or delight to anything we do. If ever that is to change, we need to learn to play a bit, remember to play a bit.
And this applies to us at any age. As a matter of fact, I know a lot of folks who are getting way up there like I’m getting way up there who laugh and play and have more fun than all the young whippersnappers who think they have a monopoly on fun and that we are way too old to play. And one reason older folks have more fun is because the older they get the less they care about what people think of them and thus are more free to be themselves and don’t worry about making a fool of themselves having a good time of it. Plus the fact it would never dawn on them to take their work with them on vacation, let alone constantly check their emails and text messages.
Actually, play is a very religious thing to do. When King David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, the scriptures tell us that he played before the Lord -- he danced and sang and had a marvelous time of it. When God described how he would renew Jerusalem, he conveyed the glory of it by saying that the children would play in the streets. The Psalmist tells us that God made the whale for the fun of it -- to watch it play in the sea. There is a playfulness at the heart of creation and life itself.
Someone has put it like this: “What is the wind doing in the hayfield? What is Victoria Falls up to, or the surf along the coast of Maine? What about the fire going wild in the belly of the stove, or the rain pounding on the roof like the Hallelujah Chorus, or the violet on the window sill leaning toward the sun? What, for that matter, is God up to, getting the whole show started in the first place? Hurling the stars around like rice at a wedding, gathering the waters together into the seas like a woman gathering shells, calling forth all the creatures of the earth and the air like a man calling ‘swing your partner’, at the hoedown.” Playfulness reflects the very glory of God and is a form of faith.
And now and then it is exactly what we need to do: for a while, not try to accomplish anything or prove anything, not do anything particularly religious or educational, but just play -- just let ourselves go and have a marvelous time of it. It is probably one of the best ways to draw near to God, refresh ourselves, and sense again the wonder of creation and life itself.
So my prayer for us all, particularly as we head into the midst of summer, is this: LET US PLAY!!
God be with you,