After complaining about a severe headache for weeks, a man finally goes to the doctor. The doctor looks him up and down and can't find anything wrong with him.
“Are you getting enough sleep?”, the doctor asks, “sometimes staying out too late and not getting the proper sleep can cause headaches.”
The man said, “Yes. In fact, I'm in bed by 8pm every night, just after I've said my prayers.”
“Do you smoke?”
“Certainly not. I would never put such filth into my body. My body is a temple of The Lord!”
“Are you a heavy drinker?”
“I resent the accusation! Why I've never touched the poison!”
“I apologize”, said the doctor, “It's just my job to ask… how many partners have you had in the past year?”
“I'll have you know I've remained celibate my entire life, thank you very much! I don't even allow myself to think of such temptations!
The doctor scratched his head for just a second then asked, “Where does your head hurt exactly?”
The man pointed to the areas that were causing him trouble and the doctor nodded knowingly. “It's just as I suspected,” said the doctor, “your halo is on too tight!”
Is your halo on too tight? I fist encountered this humorous parable in “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning. When our religion makes us joyless and prone to hold others in contempt, you could say our halo is on too tight. When Methodists celebrate holy communion we say a prayer of confession in which we confess our sins to God. The prayer ends with the line: “free us for joyful obedience in Christ out Lord.” For the disciple, obedience is a joyful response to the grace that has been extended to us for our failings. If our obedience is not joyful, then we aren't doing it right. Perhaps it is time to loosen our halos.
Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…