Oh, I love a good joke along with the best of them. But when it is suggested that God wants us to live with a sense of humor, we are talking about far more than laughing at something funny. What the bible encourages is that people with humor don’t take themselves too seriously for one thing, and once that task is entertained, we are more able to see the beauty and, yes, humor in daily thing
The bible speaks of humor as that foundational belief that sets us free to see beauty and look for the good in those around us. I keep returning to St. Paul’s advice in Philippians Chapter 2: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourself.” Yep, “better.” The other person worth your best energy. Able to laugh at oneself just when you think (as we all do sometimes) that someone owes you something in return.
Kathleen Fischer, in her book, Winter Grace, argues that as we mature, the role that humor plays in our lives must increase. She writes:
Because humor recognizes the limitations of human existence, it is also an antidote against setting up absolutes in life. One unattractive quality we can acquire as we age is a certain rigidity of spirt. Our ideas and values, habits and expectations, can become enshrined as gods. We find it easy to judge others harshly and difficult to make room for opinions and ideas different from our own.
Humor can dissolve our pretense and illusions. As G.K. Chesterton put it, “If you do not have mirth, you will certainly have madness.” Laughter helps us relax and expand our vision. (Fischer, Winter Grace, p. 130)
My prayer is that as we as a congregation head into another winter month of living we can encourage one another to consider the love of God that sets us free to live with ease and, yes, let us call it, humor. On February 9th, something like sixty members will gather for a Parish Life Group supported “Celebrating Love” night of fellowship over at the Blue Stem in Luverne, MN. We will gather for a good meal, lots of socializing and a brief after-dinner conversation about “The Importance of Humor.”
But not just the Celebrating Love group…all of us in this month of Valentine’s greetings can remember that it is God’s love for us that allows us to, in the words of Fischer, “relax” and really have a right kind of “vision” that allows us to enjoy this world, a new day for ourselves and for others. In Jesus. Emanuel’s name we pray. Amen”
Pastor Greg Johnson