These thoughts started a conversation that was had at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on “Humor” Sunday, April 8, 2018. The discussion was based upon a reading from Psalm 126.
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here. Note: the questions on this handout are often different from the questions raised in the discussion.
It is often said that it is darkest before the dawn. The morning of that first Easter, as the women gathered the burial spices and headed to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for burial, must have been dreadfully dark. The women had to walk carefully so as not to stumble and spill the costly spices they had prepared.
We can imagine their surprise when arriving at the tomb, before the morning light, just how scared they must have been to find the stone rolled away from the tomb. Their tears, no doubt, pierced the darkness.
All of the sudden “two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing” (Luke 24:4, Common English Bible). The darkness was pushed away. The women’s tears glistened as they bowed their faces to the ground, shielding their eyes from the light.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” one of the men asked (Luke 24:5). “He’s not here,” the other man said. Perhaps it was “one of the other women” who laughed—a lack of sleep and fear tends to make people a little punchy—and said, “thanks we can see that now.”
“He isn’t here,” the first continued, “but has been raised. Remember what he told you…” (Luke 24:6).
The sun rose. The women smiled, their faces gleamed, and they burst forth from the tomb in joyous laugher to tell the others what they had seen. “Their words struck the apostles as nonsense” (Luke 24:11), the men laughed at the women.
“But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened” (Luke 24:12). He didn’t know what to do, all he could was laugh.
Sometimes all you can do is laugh: you gotta laugh.
It has been said that babies and children laugh between 200-300 times a day while adults laugh only 20 times a day. While I’ve never attempted to count the actual number of times my children laugh, I can unscientifically say, they do laugh more than the adults in the house.
As Chandra and I frantically fold laundry before putting the girls to bed, and mistakenly place jammie pants in the shirt drawer, it is not uncommon for one of the girls to fling that carefully folded pair of pajama pants out the drawer, over their heads laughing and smiling and saying “that’s not where that goes.”
They laugh at the most mundane things, like when something is out of place—clothes in the wrong drawer, shoes on the wrong feet, a potholder used as a hat. They laugh. I get frustrated.
Case in point: Sandra Boynton wrote a book called Blue Hat, Green Hat. I really like Boynton’s books, but this one drives me crazy. The book shoes a turkey who is constantly putting articles of clothing on the wrong way. Little kids find it hilarious. For me, well…let’s just say, I read this book with little enthusiasm; nevertheless, my kids laugh. I roll my eyes.
Why do you think adults laugh less than children?
Perhaps we’re not surprised as often.
Perhaps its because we think we have the world all figured out and when things don’t appear as we think they should, we grow disappointed instead of awestruck by a new possibility.
Perhaps adults laugh less because we’ve simply seen too much.
Martin Luther, the great German reformer, is attributed as saying, “You have as much laughter as you have faith.” What do you think he was trying to say?
Jesus said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3); perhaps, part of what it means to become a child is to laugh more: to find wonder in the ordinary parts of life, to not get so caught up in our own expectations that we fail to find humor and inspiration in the new opportunities and surprises of life.
To be certain, we adults think we’ve seen a lot. Bad things happen. Yes, there are times when the world seems awfully dark; but, hear the good news, “the light sines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light” (John 1:5). We have reason to hope and laugh—no amount of darkness can extinguish the light. Christ has risen!
We can stand in the dark,
even on the precipice of death and laugh!
Luther was right, our ability and willingness to laugh is a measure of our faith. We can laugh knowing that
in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. (Romans 8:37-39)
Therefore, never lose hope. God’s love is steadfast even in the face of death. So laugh! knowing that
Death has been swallowed up by a victory.
Where is your victory, Death?
Where is your sting, Death?
Thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always. (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57)
Laugh. Be merry. Never lose hope. Always look on the bright side of life—a life that in Christ will never grow dim or dreary, but shine into eternity.
“And now for something completely different…”