“Inspire Authenticity: Laughter” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

June 18th,2020 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter
Beloved Church,

I hope this week you have been able to experience God’s love in new and unexpected ways. Maybe a walk or a new friend, maybe a book or an overheard story. These times have been difficult to say the least, but our God is at work with us and through us, and it is part of our journeys to be watchful for God at work. We hope you will join us for YASS Happy Hour, Worship, Digital Meet and Greet, Children’s Worship and much more. For all the information, make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

When I was in seminary, I had a professor ask me, “What is one thing you want to know about God?” My classmates came back with wonderful answers such as, “What happens when we die?” “Are you happy with the church?” and, “What is the ultimate form of love?” I asked, “What makes God laugh?”

Laughter to me has always had healing properties. I have had times where a laugh brightened my mood, and I have had times in which I laughed so hard that I cried – which helped me actually cry and grieve the loss of a loved one. Laughter is powerful and can be an incredible tool of justice and loving care. This week’s scripture talks about laughter as well. It comes from the Book of Genesis and tells the story about Sarah and Abraham and how their hospitality led to some unimaginable news.
God appeared to Abraham by the oak grove of Mamre, while Abraham sat at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Looking up, Abraham saw three travelers standing nearby.

When he saw them, Abraham ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass by our tent. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves beneath this tree. As you have come to your faithful one, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves. Afterward, you may go on your way.”

“Very well,” they replied, “do as you have said.”

Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick—take a bushel of fine flour and knead it into loaves of bread.” Abraham then ran to the herd, selected a choice and tender calf, and sent a worker hurrying to prepare it. Then Abraham took cheese and milk and the calf which had been prepared and placed it before the travelers; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

“Where is Sarah?” they asked.

“There in the tent,” Abraham replied.

One of them said, “I will surely return to you this time next year, and Sarah will then have a child.” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him.

Now Sarah and Abraham were old, well on in years, and Sarah no longer had her periods. So, Sarah laughed to herself and said, “Now that I am so old and my husband even older, is pleasure to come my way again?” (Genesis 18:1-12)

So, Sarah laughed…

When I asked my question of what makes God laugh, I spoke out a need for a new connection with God. I wanted that connection of laughter. For me, laughter is powerful and meaningful and what better way to experience God? I also figured, since we are made in the Divine Image or Imago Dei then surely the things that bring me healing and wholeness like laughter, are things that God relates to as well. But I continue to ask the question, “What makes god Laugh?”

Since then, as I read my bible in prayer, faith formation, and academic study I have paid particular attention to the times that people laughed. The words laugh (including laughed and laughter) appears in our scriptures only 48 times. And each time, I learn something about the role laughter plays in my life. In today’s scripture I think Sarah laughs out of disbelief and hope. I have definitely shared in that type of laughter, perhaps more than ever during these past few months. The type of laughter that escapes from you like a newly sprung leak- forceful in its disbelief, and unexpected in its hope.  So, Sarah and I have laughed, but has God?

Friends, I don’t know about you, but I think God laughs. Being made in the divine image means that what we do reflects God-and that includes laughter. I think the spirit can help us with a needed laugh like in the case of Sarah. And I think God is present in the laughter itself. Bubbling up in us at the wonder of the world, and releasing its cathartic, enveloping, and healing sound back into creation.

Shalom Y’all,

Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: O Lord bring me laughter. Amen