Martin Luther once said, “If I’m not allowed to laugh in heaven, then I don’t want to go.” Laughter is something that each and every one of us needs in our lives. It’s healthy to laugh.
I firmly believe that God has gifted each of us with a sense of humor, in one way or another. I remember a few weeks ago I was at text study, and we were talking about death and heaven/hell.
When I left, slightly unnerved, I got into my car, and when I heard what song was playing on the radio, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was “That’ll Be The Day (That I Die.)” Laughter brings us hope, encouragement, and joy. Far too often, I think we take ourselves too seriously. Stress causes so much pain and suffering in our lives. We need laughter to balance our lives.
Pastor Laura Gentry, a pastor in Northeast Iowa, has been named a Laughter Ambassador by Laughter Club International. Pastor Laura has introduced laughter ministry to the congregation she serves in Iowa. They get together weekly and laugh together. She says that laughing together weekly has boosted their joy and given them another opportunity to share their Christian love with each other through laughter.
She says that this laughter ministry has helped them gain a greater appreciation for joy in their faith lives, and their laughter club has made the congregation she serves a more compassionate congregation. She has made several laughter CD’s that can be used as laughter resources for personal or congregational use. These CD’s contain several laughter workouts that have you laughing out loud in many different ways. It feels a bit ridiculous, but that’s the point. The point is to laugh, to be silly, and “make a joyful noise to the Lord.” (Psalm 98:4)
We find many verses in Scripture that talk about joy and happiness. For example, in Ecclesiastes 3, we read, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” There is time in our lives to laugh. What wonderful news this is. In Luke 6:21, Jesus says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” There are several other verses that allude to joy and happiness in the Bible, and laughter can have a wonderful effect in our lives, and in our faith.
Of course, the text also says that there is a time to weep, and a time to mourn. Not every moment of our lives can or will be filled with laughter. There are times to be serious, and we know when those times are. But laughter is a gift that we can use when we’re feeling sad, depressed, angry, or frustrated. In an article that Pastor Laura wrote for the ELCA Board of Pensions, she talks about scientific studies that were done on the effects of laughter on the body.
In these studies, gelatologists (that is, people who study laughter, or “gelos,” the Greek word meaning “laughter,”) have found that laughter has several health benefits, such as improvement of the function of blood vessels, prevention of heart disease, boosts in the immune system, reduction of stress hormone levels and hopefulness in the lives of people. Laughing can help make us healthy.
God has blessed us richly with the gift of being in community with one another. One of the ways in which we can build community is to laugh with one another. Tell someone a joke, make a silly face, or laugh for no reason at all. Laughter is contagious, after all. God has gifted us all with a sense of humor and when we laugh with each other, it creates a bond of joy, peace, love and happiness. Laughter creates joy in our lives, and joy reminds us of how blessed we are in the grace and love that God has given us. For we know that our God is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.” (Jonah 4:2). May we all find joy and laughter in our lives; and when we laugh, may it be a “joyful noise to the Lord.”