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Glen Scrivener explains the ancient link between laughter and faith at Easter time
This year Easter Sunday lands on April Fools’ Day. That’s a happy coincidence because Easter and laughter have been linked for millennia. While Good Friday is a day of mourning, Easter Sunday is the great turnaround. It’s the unexpected punchline, piercing our grief with pure joy.
Down through the centuries many practices have grown up around “Easter Laughter” (it’s a thing — look it up!). Joke telling has been a tradition in many churches because, through the Easter story, Jesus gets the last laugh over darkness and death. That’s definitely worth celebrating.
Laughter and faith are pretty similar when you think about it. They’re both about experiencing a shocking shift in perception. Humour works by taking something familiar and re-presenting it in a different light. A horse, for instance, is not funny. But a horse in a straw hat is. A horse in a straw hat with a flower on it is comedy gold. The shift in perception makes us laugh. Faith works in much the same way.
Faith happens to us when we see God, the world and ourselves in a new light. We have a shift in perception, the lights come on and we go “Ohhhhh, I get it!” The gospel — the good news about Jesus — is like the joke. It tells us a story about Christ and all he’s done. When we hear the goodness of this good news, things click. We have a moment of recognition, a moment of joy. We might even laugh.
Below is the first of three poems based on the ironies of Easter. In the style of stand-up comedy I explore Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. My prayer is that people of all beliefs and none would hear again the incredible news of a God who stoops, sacrifices and rises again to give death an almighty send off. Maybe, even in spite of themselves, folk will start to smile at the goodness of a God who overturns all our expectations and gives us a happily ever after. Then we can share once again in this ancient phenomenon: Easter laughter.
Glen is married to Emma and a minister in the Church of England in Eastbourne, UK. He works as an evangelist and has become well known for his videos, blogs and books that share the Gospel in ways that anyone can engage with and understand.
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