The Grace of Laughter

Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me;
everyone who hears will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6 NRS)

“Sarah & Isaac” by Neal Parrow

For obvious reasons, I have an affinity for Sarah, but perhaps there is something to the notion of sharing characteristics with your namesake.  Sarah is known for her laughter, specifically the laughter she has as a reaction to overhearing God tell Abraham that she will bear a child (Genesis 18:12).  Laughter and a sense of humor are hallmarks of my ministry, especially the way I teach and preach.  Sarah’s laughter is often remembered because she gets called out for it by God.  Lesser known is her laughter after the promised child is born.  The first time she laughed, Sarah scoffed at the ridiculous thought of her having a child when, according to scripture, she had already reached menopause (Genesis 18:11).  The next time she was laughing with joy, celebrating that the impossible had been accomplished by God; she had indeed conceived and bore a child.  Her laughter was now indicative of the grace of God and the fulfillment of God’s promises no matter how impossible they may seen to humankind. 

Sarah proclaims that those who hear of this miracle by God will laugh with her.  The grace of God is extended to others, even if they are only sharing in our joy.  God gives us many opportunities to laugh, in scripture, in community, and in fellowship.  Our sense of humor is a gift that enables us to cope with hardship, setbacks, and the ironies of this life.  We can share our laughter, just as we share our lives and our gifts.  We can use laughter to relieve our stress, to blow off steam, to create fun experiences with others.  God doesn’t just bless those who laugh, as he did Sarah.  God blesses laughter.  When it is done right, laughter is something to find joy in and celebrate.  Even Sarah’s child is named for righteous laughter; Isaac means “he laughs.”

So let us live and laugh.  Let us remember that God offers us a life full of all kinds of experiences.  We have been graced with laughter to cope with the bad and celebrate the good.

Almighty God,
You created humankind,
And endowed us with the gift of laughter.
Help us to realize your grace in our sense of humor.
Keep us from using it to hurt others.
May our laughter be a sign of your goodness,
A mark of the joy we find in you.
Bless our lives with the wild laughter of children,
And the laughter borne of fellowship with others.


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