No laughing matter

Pastoral Messages | April 18, 2024

You don’t have to spend much time driving on the interstate before you encounter one of those electronic traffic signs overhead. I’m sure you’ve seen them. They remind you to buckle your seat belt or to reduce your speed in a work zone or warn you of a stalled vehicle on the shoulder up ahead. And often these signs are a bit witty, including funny wording or puns that might make you chuckle as you drive by.  

States across the country have used a variety of quirky messages to get drivers to pay attention to the sign, rather than just pass by. Among them: “Use Yah Blinkah” in Massachusetts; “Visiting in-laws? Slow down, get there late” in Ohio; “Hands on the wheel, not your meal,” from Arizona. Or one of my favorites: “Get your head out of your apps,” in New Jersey—a cheeky attempt to tell people it’s not safe to look at your phone while driving. 

If you’ve enjoyed these silly little signs as much as I have—here’s some sad news. Earlier this year, the Federal Highway Administration released new rules related to the messages each state’s Department of Transportation might choose to use.  

While they stop short of an outright ban on such funny one-liners, they have issued somewhat of a heavy-handed declaration. States should now begin phasing out signs that have “obscure meaning, use pop-culture references, or otherwise might require drivers ‘greater time to process.’” Signs should avoid humor or funny references because, according to the agency, it might confuse or distract drivers.  

I, for one, will be sad to see the roadside humor go. There’s not much we Americans can all agree on these days. But something that gathers a collective laugh—even from our respective cars—seems like something worth keeping around.  

For what it’s worth, even God found little ways to insert humor, irony, or sarcasm into our lives. Some people think the whole story of Jonah is a kind of comedy—a tale of everything that can go wrong when we run away from God. Or there’s these words from Proverbs: “A joyful heart is good medicine.” And the well-known words of Ecclesiastes: “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh.” 

We might soon be losing the silly sayings we see on those electronic signs. But, whatever you do, don’t lose your sense of humor. Laughter—whether on the road or in our homes or even through words of scripture—is indeed good for the soul. 

-Katy Warren, associate pastor

3 Comments on “No laughing matter”

  • Anke Maass

    May 3, 2024 at 5:14 am

    A giggle or just something that brings a smile is great daily medicine

  • karen wolfe

    April 18, 2024 at 3:42 pm

    thank you pastor katy

  • Marcia Willi

    April 18, 2024 at 1:41 pm

    I guess its like that old saying “ laughter is the best medicine “! Thanks for the reminder, Katy; trying to find humor in the mundane

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