A Note from Jessie – Covenant Newsletter, February 2020

Here in the dreary doldrums of winter, I love to recall this famous line from the British novelist, William Thackery:

“A good laugh is sunshine in the house.” 

Well, isn’t that the truth? 

There is something powerfully transformative about laughter. It can change the mood of a whole house, bring levity to the air of a room, and perceptively alter the atmospheric quality of any given space. Laughing with another person can heal a heart, rescue an embarrassing moment, bond a new friendship, offer grace to a child, bridge a language gap, and restore hope even in the grimmest of circumstances. And of course we have all heard that on a scientific level, laughing is beneficial for the body by releasing endorphins, decreasing stress hormones, and even boosting the immune system. 

Plain and simple: laughter is a gift.

I think laughter has especially been on my mind recently for two reasons. First of all, when the aforementioned dark, rainy, winter days start seeping into my psyche, threatening my patience and dimming my perspective, I tend to take myself a bit too seriously. Everything seems a little harder, a little heavier, and let’s be honest, that mindset can make us all feel a tad too self-important or self-focused. No thanks. When I feel myself (all too regularly) slipping in that direction, I try to remember the wisdom of that age-old Proverb 17:22: “a joyful heart is good medicine.” And then I stop, and I pray. I have to ask God for help in refocusing, for help in sifting through the thick layers of frustration to discover small glimmers of joy. And if not joy, then at least humor, which can slowly blossom into joy. I pray for that kind of help all the time, but those prayer requests seem to hit a record volume here in February!

Secondly, the ministry of laughter has also been on my mind because I have been over-hearing the most inspiring quotations about laughing all around our church. Here are a few as of late…

“I can always find my wife in a crowd by following the sound of her laughter.” 

Ryan Walker walking into our Family Fellowship class before sitting down next to a giggling Elizabeth.

“Oh, I needed that laugh!” 

– One of the young moms wiping a happy tear away as she chopped vegetables at ME Mornings last week. 

“A big sign as to the health of a church or family is how well they laugh and play together.” 

-Dr. Ryan V. Moore in the most thoughtful note to a young congregant. 

“I am thankful for laughter as well as tears, for without sadness we cannot fully appreciate joy.” 

-Ginny Barber sharing during a gratitude exercise led by Sarah Bird.

How beautiful to be part of a church family who recognizes and cherishes the importance of laughing! Truly, there is something special about God’s gift of laughter in our lives. 

So, with an aim to nurture that gift in your life today, here are some questions that I invite you to pause and consider for a moment, in hopes that doing so will bring a smile to your face and plant at least a small seed of joy in your heart:

What makes you laugh out loud?

Who makes you laugh the hardest? 

Whose laughter is a contagious sound, and whose peals of laughter warm your heart? 

When is the last time you good-naturedly laughed at yourself?

Can you recall the details of a time when you belly-laughed so hard you could barely breathe?

Are you smiling right now thinking about laughter like I am? Even if smiling on the inside?

So now the question is, how do we spread, inspire, and participate in this ministry of laughter? 

Perhaps it begins with leaning into our faith a little more by surrendering our misguided self-importance at God’s holy feet. Humility grants us that liberty to unburden ourselves of our own weighty agendas so that we might feel light enough to laugh readily at our own human foibles. Stronger dependence on God’s will— and not on our own— frees up space in our hearts for delight to rush in, enabling us to discover hidden treasures of humor in the people and situations all around us.

May this week bring you moments of unexpected laughter, may God’s grace shine down upon your head and out into the world through your smile, and may we all remember that our Heavenly Father rejoices in the loving laughter we share with one another. 

Finally, through literal and figurative seasons of darkness, and in the depths of true hardship, may we remember that each tear that cleanses our cheeks now will create even greater capacities for grateful laughter in the future, for Christ promises, “your grief will be turned into joy” (John 16:20).

A heart-felt thanks to all who share life-affirming joy throughout our church and to all who leave a wide wake of good humor in this and every space. Your laughter is like sunshine in my life indeed.

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