A good laugh

Pastoral Messages | May 23, 2024

My best friend, Adam, and I have never lived in the same town. Through life’s chances, we’ve always been separated by at least a drive on the interstate. While we text and check in on each other every day, our favorite pastime is sending each other things we know will make the other laugh. Sometimes it’s a meme from the depths of the internet; others it’s a short video clip of a comedian or just a silly situation. But without a doubt, our shared sense of humor is an important part of how we love each other as friends.

Recently, Adam sent me a funny gag about Christianity. These are by far our favorites to swap with each other. This time, the laugh got me thinking about Scripture. Specifically, is there anything funny in the Bible? This wasn’t a topic covered in the seminary lecture hall; so, I did some digging on where holy Scripture might be cracking a joke.

My mind immediately went to the story of Elijah despairing over his lot in life: God has made Elijah a prophet, to speak God’s own words to the people of Israel. And what do God’s people do? They completely ignore him. They even threaten to kill him. Elijah becomes so fearful and frustrated with Israel’s obstinance that he threatens to quit outright. Elijah falls asleep and God sends an angel to feed him a meal, and then reveals God’s presence in the silence of the world (1 Kings 19:1-14). Life isn’t easy being a prophet of the God of Israel. But Elijah’s story tells us that sometimes, when you’re fed up, a nap and snack is all you really need.

Humor and jokes don’t tend to translate well across cultures, much less thousands of years. Irony, however, seems to be something humans have always shared. And funny irony seems to be the Bible’s primary form of laughter. Jesus’ mom pesters him to perform a miracle, like any mom proud of her son would (John 2:1-11). Sarah can’t help but laugh out loud when God tells her, well into her nineties, that she is about to have a baby (Gen. 18:9-18). Poor Eutychus falls asleep during one of Paul’s long-winded sermons and tumbles out of a window (Acts 20:9). Paul himself is constantly self-deprecating, calling himself a fool for believing in the good news of Jesus (2 Cor. 11).

Taking our faith and our God seriously is, of course, important. But even Scripture understands that seriousness can get in the way of hearing the joy, the silliness, the brightness that God speaks into the world. Humor is a beautiful part of not only human life, but also life with God. Giggles, snorts, chuckles are all part of how we express love and connection. So don’t be afraid to snicker during a sermon, or even when reading God’s word! I’m willing to bet God is probably snickering, too.

Mac Mullins, pastor in residency

5 Comments on “A good laugh”

  • Tom Olson

    May 30, 2024 at 3:21 pm

    My Father Always Told Me! Dont Ever Loose Your Sence of Humor!😃👌😂

  • Larry Price

    May 28, 2024 at 5:17 pm

    Live, laugh, love…and keep faith in God

  • Anke Maass

    May 23, 2024 at 8:14 pm

    Humor is the best medicine I have been told before. Thanks for this reminder

  • Joyce Nuernberger

    May 23, 2024 at 2:22 pm

    Don’t forget about the pictures of Jesus laughing.

  • Deb Lamp

    May 23, 2024 at 1:44 pm

    I enjoyed your message, it is important to keep humor in our life.

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