I was really struck by something Martyn Percy, from Rippon College in Oxforshire, England said last week. He made this statement in his lecture on Practical Theology:
“Humor has a role to play in the mood of a congregation.”
A simple statement but it had me deeply reflecting on the role humor and laughter has played in the past 10 years of Ordinary Community. I can say honestly, it’s been one of our bedrock foundations. Any time the people are gathered, there will be much laughter, even in the midst of suffering. What a gift that is. Laughter is so therapeutic and basic to our experience of being human. Studies show that developmentally, children laugh far before they learn to speak. The expression of joy is a part of our design, we were made to laugh.As well, laughter plays a huge role in the forming of deep and intimate community relationships. Dr. Jeanne Segal, who has done extensive research on this came to these conclusions:
The social benefits of humor and laughterHumor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment.Laughing with others is more powerful than laughing aloneShared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter and play adds joy, vitality, and resilience. And humor is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Laughter unites people during difficult times.
Joy defines us as the people of God. Happiness is fleeting, it largely depends on our circumstances. But joy is unmoving, it is rooted in the things that never change. It is rooted in our commitment to one another and our security of living a life in a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. We will suffer, of that you can be sure, but we never suffer alone . . . and in that there is joy.
10 He continued, “Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!” – Nehemiah 8:10 The Message