Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, January, 2017

posted Dec 30, 2016, 9:59 AM by Lois Kerchner

Good Medicine for the New Year

With the imminent arrival of another year, it's time to reflect on those days behind us and perhaps more importantly look ahead to 2017. I have seen quite a number of New Year’s by now, so rather than lament any past grievances, let me suggest an approach in which we might see this coming New Year in the best possible light.

I read recently that Abraham Lincoln, at a time when the outlook of the Civil War appeared most bleak, called a cabinet meeting and announced that the business at hand was extremely crucial. At that point President Lincoln looked into the anxious faces of his advisors and picked up a copy of a book by his favorite humorist, Artemis Ward. Next the President proceeded to read aloud a selection from one of the most hilarious chapters. Meanwhile his uneasy cabinet members were shifting about in their chairs, wondering indignantly when Lincoln would finally get around to real business.

 Lincoln at last laid down his book, sighed deeply as if some great burden had been lifted from his soul, and spoke these words, “Gentleman, why don't you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day I should die if I did not laugh occasionally. You need this medicine as much as I.”

 God's great gift of wholesome laughter is a wonderful antidote to stressful moments and the burdens of daily life. The more tired the soul, the more that laughter is needed. Healthy laughter is a sign of spiritual vitality. It bubbles up from the glad recognition of the goodness of God and the created order.

Laughter is gladness put to music. One of my favorite devotional writers says that laughter is, “joy made vocal when dawn colors the east with glory and awakens the mind to great expectations and an eagerness to get busy with significant work aimed at high purposes. It is the soul's rejoicing when a wild flower is found, when a bird sings, when a spotted fawn leaps from its bed at one's casual approach along a woodland trail, when a mother mallard appears swimming along the lakeshore with her downy ducklings paddling in her wake” (from The Tinsel & the Hay by Harold Kohn).

 According to the Psalmist, even God laughs. “In heaven the Lord sits on his throne, making fun of (laughing at) the nations” (Ps. 2:4 CEV). The writer seemingly has in mind the humor of God at beholding humanity's feelings of self-importance, when everything we have and are comes from beyond ourselves, derived from the ultimate Source of Being.

 Laughter is a key to one's character; by what we find laughable we show what we are. Not everything is funny or humorous. Certain kinds of laughter are profane rather than sacramental, debasing rather than elevating the soul. For example, laughing at another's affliction or great discomfort is deplorable, not laughable.

But according to Harold Kohn, whom I quote again in conclusion: “There is stream of health, cascading like a clear mountain rivulet of melted snow through human experience. This stream is the flow of wholesome, spontaneous laughter – one of the most delightful sounds of earth – God's gift for refreshing and renewing our souls.”

 Have a Happy New Year!

 

George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries

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