A Time Not To Laugh

I was searching for an update on Hurricane Matthew when I met a different storm on the internet.

A 2005 recording of Donald Trump on an Access Hollywood bus had leaked to the media. I will not describe or repeat what he said because you likely know already. Words gave way to talk to explanations to apologies to presidential debates to emails to accusations....Voices on top of voices created a whirlwind that pushed Matthew out of the spotlight.

As I listened to the recording on the news for what seemed like the thousandth time earlier this week, I no longer heard words. All I could hear was the laugh. The response. I assume it was Billy Bush, even though I have no training in voice identification. There was a problem larger than elections or personalities in that laugh.

I don't know the motivation behind the laughter on that bus in 2005. Perhaps Bush was nervous. Perhaps he genuinely found Trump's comments funny. Perhaps he didn't know what to say. Perhaps laughing was the easiest, and most natural, response. Perhaps he was acting.

Since the story went viral, Bush's attorney told The Hollywood Reporter that Bush "risked losing his job if he'd been passive or told Trump to shut up." Was the laughter a mask for fear, then? Or for anger?

We have likely all been in situations where someone said something that we deemed "inappropriate." How have we responded? Sometimes we laugh even if we don't think something is funny because of all the possibilities already mentioned: fear, shock, anger, social pressure. Sometimes we speak up. Sometimes we say nothing.

17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ 18 He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
— Luke 10:17-20 (NRSV)

When the disciples return to Jesus and share the great things God has done through their ministry, Jesus confirms what has already happened. Their words have power. They have spoken the truth of victory in Jesus. They have ministered in his love. They have responded to the injustices and evils of the world with the name of Love in Jesus Christ.

The body of Christ has the same authority to speak for what is right, and in doing so we reject the inappropriate laughter. We are the disciples who can rejoice at the eternal impact of saying "no" to hurtful language even if there is temporal discomfort.

We also have to let go of the insecurity that causes us to remain silent. We have to stand on God's Word to keep us from slipping into nervous, submissive laughter. The confidence of the disciples in Luke 10 doesn't happen overnight. Their authority comes from constant communion with the Lamb of God.

Our opportunities to speak up for what is right don't usually happen on a national stage or an Access Hollywood bus. They happen in meetings and around tables and with everyday conversation. We may feel like our words in those small settings would make much little difference. But let us not forget that our beginnings as the body of Christ were in a small town, in a small stable, in a small manger. How great a victory resounds. Let us be bold enough to live and speak that victory everyday.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian