Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

I am really looking forward to spring and summer now. Lighter days and the signs of growth are heartening and I have noticed this year, particularly, that the lighter mornings lift my spirits. I was thinking today about joy and laughter and the effect they have on me. Laughter is one of the ways we see joy and hear it. Sometimes at the end of a busy day I find myself wanting to do, watch or read something that makes me laugh.Thankfully Youtube provides plenty of opportunity and material; whether in the form of kitten and cat antics or past episodes of The Two Ronnies. Anyway, at the end of half an hour or so I feel much better and ready for bed.

I’m sure we have all noticed how busy life has become and how little time there seems to be for leisure. We can, if we are not careful, get consumed by work and busyness and forget to have fun. The work life balance of many people I meet seems to weigh too heavily in the direction of being overwhelmed with the stuff of life. Research suggests that stress is a key factor as regards our health and longevity and that laughter has healing power. Laughter releases stress. I’m not sure what the scientific basis for this is, rather, it is just important to know that when I’ve had a good laugh I feel restored. Laughter, too, is infectious.

A few years ago I remember having a conversation with a work colleague about faith and going to church. He told me that he had been walking by a church one Sunday, and heard uproarious laughter coming from inside. He was surprised because he thought that churches were dull and boring places. “I felt drawn to that”, he said, “I wanted to go in and be part of whatever was happening. I could go to a church like that!” Did you know that there are many words in the Bible associated with worship that have to do with laughter and joy; shouts of joy, dancing, skipping and releasing stress. Who wants to go to a church where you come out more burdened that when you arrived?

Did you know that Jesus told jokes and loved to make people laugh? Most commentators who understand the social and political context definitely agree. To be sure, there are no ‘knock knock’ jokes in the Gospels nor any in a form that we might recognise today but, be assured, they are there. In many of Jesus’ parables there are hilarious and ridiculous cartoon like exaggerations of the human condition. I have no doubt from studying these things that people loved being around Jesus not just because he was kind and made sense but because he was funny too. Humour in the presentation of anything is very attractive. Laughter is a gift from God and he loves to see us having fun. Psalm 126: 2 says, “then our mouths were full of laughter and our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said by the nations, ‘the Lord has done great things for them’.” Joy can exist even in times of sorrow and so can gentle laughter and smiles.

So, my recommendation to everyone is to go and find lots of things this year that make you laugh, seek out lots of times to spend time in good company and make fun a priority in your spring and summer schedule, for your sake, for your family’s sake and for the benefit of our community.
Every blessing

Stephen 07943 014277 (day off having fun, Tuesday)

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