I’ve been sick for the last several days. While I’m feeling a bit better today, I still sound like a 70-year-old Marine who began smoking in 5th grade. Maybe for that reason, or maybe just because, today I feel like having a little fun at the expense of myself and my fellow children of God who comprise the Church in the southeastern US.
Please understand: the Lord commands my utmost reverence and respect. However, I am afraid I do not hold the same degree of esteem for church jargon. We are a funny people, and for my part at least, I am often amused at the absurd things I will say in a thoughtless moment.
Besides, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, someone else will (and probably already is).
If you’re likely to feel wounded by having your pet phrases picked on, I suggest you do not read any further. If, however, you find merriment in poking a bit of fun at jargon in general, I invite you to join me.
Who knows? Maybe laughter will turn out to be the best medicine… or maybe it will trigger another coughing fit. Either way, I find it much more fun to laugh at myself than to brood over my bruised ego. (Actually, there are a whole host of things that are more fun than that… but there’s a story for another day).
So without further ado, here are a few phrases that have given me a grin or a giggle in my years as an adult experiencing Southern churchy lingo for the first time:
1. We covet your prayers.
I’m sorry, but this one gets me every time, probably because the tenth commandment explicitly tells us not to covet.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Dictionary.com defines covet thus: “to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others.”
**Note that for my purposes here, I am conveniently ignoring the other part of the definition which states covet can also mean “to wish for, especially eagerly.”**
OK, ok… I know that in Exodus 20:17 and its kin, the prohibition on coveting is specifically directed at a selfish desire for the belongings and personal relationships of others. Still in light of the Tenth Commandment, I tend to find something a trifle humorous about coveting prayers.
I guess in my (rather twisted) mind, the phrase translates roughly, “I have an extravagant, inappropriate, and consuming desire for your prayers regardless of whether you wish to offer them or not.”
2. Bless this food and the hands that prepared it.
The first time I heard this phrase offered up in sincere supplication before a meal, I could not stop my poor, immature mind from wondering, Why only the hands?
Maybe it’s just me, but this phrase conjures an image of hordes of cooks gallivanting around the Southeast with naught but their hands blessed…
Yeah, it’s probably just me.
Still, if I am among those who prepared the food, I would very much appreciate it if the requested blessing might perhaps be extended past my wrists. I may even covet it, but I’ll have to get back to you on that…
3. Jesus hung out with sinners.
Seriously, think about this one for a minute.
The reason this one cracks me up is because in all honesty, it is simply a paraphrase of John 1:14 –
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
During the years He spent walking the earth both before and during His ministry, Jesus did not have an opportunity to hang out with anyone but sinners. Saying, “Jesus hung out with sinners,” is the exact same thing as saying, “Jesus socialized with humans.”
And lest we forget, while He did associate with sinners, He also managed to keep himself sinless. It’s kind of why we need Him as our great High Priest.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Feel free to share some funnies of your own!