Laughter in church is good for the soul

John Hatcher's picture

Too often our young people — especially teenagers — correlate matters of faith with some of the most boring subjects in all the land. I see them enter the front doors of the church and immediately dress their countenance with this “doesn’t matter in a hill of beans” look.

Yet, something hit me as I was preaching the “word” this past Sunday. I was giving a good word about the mother of faith, Sarah, and how she received the ability to conceive Isaac in her late age by faith. Hebrews 11:11 says it: “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life since she considered him (God) faithful who had promised” (NAS).

But if you flip back to Genesis 18 when God’s angels announced to Abraham and Sarah that they were to be parents in their old age, Sarah laughed. She claimed she didn’t. But she did. In fact, she laughed so much that they acquiesced and named their first born together “Isaac” which means laughter. Imagine calling out, “Come to supper, Laughter.”
The reason Sarah laughed at the announcement was simply that she thought it ludicrous for an old woman to give birth and couldn’t possibly imagine the scene. So, she laughed. Now, you think for a moment about 90-year-old grandma giving birth.

Now, what hit me while I was preaching about Sarah and her unprecedented birth was that it seems to be okay with God for faith and laughter to go hand in hand. Far too often we see and feel faith as a “down in the dump” experience. We raise our kids to act like they are attending a funeral when at church. Wrong!

Some poor monk got it right hundreds of years ago. After he and the brethren had been through the week of passion with all its pathos, he broke out in a huge laugh. “Don’t you see,” he cried, “It was a joke! A great joke! The best joke in all history! On Good Friday, when Jesus was crucified, the devil thought he had won. But God had the last laugh on Easter when he raised Jesus from the dead.”

If death doesn’t have the last word, there’s nothing we can’t break into laughter about. I have a friend — for about 25 years or so — and together there just isn’t anything we can’t laugh about. After all, we know who won. Maybe we should allow for a “humor of the week” as part of our worship services. Something ought to be done about the sour puss in the third pew and Sarah would heartily agree.

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