Tis the Season . . . for Laughter

December 13, 2010

Before I make my point, first, a disclaimer: this is not a season of laughter for lots of folks. As pastor, you know the red underbelly of the season’s “ho, ho, ho”—the absence of laughter for many. Even after a decade of retirement, I remember the roller coaster ride, the highs of joy, the lows of grief and loneliness.

Nevertheless, this season does give blanket permission for play—time off from work and school for games in the living room and on the field or court; festive meals with family and friends. More humor, smiles, jokes, laughter, good wishes, perhaps more than any other time of year.

What might this have to say about pastoral leadership?

I offer a hunch.

During the holidays we, along with our congregations, are not so serious about accomplishing. Yes, during these days, you work hard to provide worship celebrations of the Christ child but these efforts are not means to an end, they are ends in themselves.

We have permission to hold lightly the important work we do in the world. And it is important work we do in the world. The church is for others; its witness affects change toward justice and forgiveness and non-violence and healing and reconciliation.
But the Advent/Christmas season invites transcendence. It invites us to step back and claim some distance from our attachment to results. For a spell, “it’s” not about us and our worthy goals. Committees take a break. No meetings for planning. Most everybody, including the church, sets aside their calendars and turns to Grace—the gifts, the gratitude, being, not doing.

And laughter, too. Transcendence restores humor.

Inspired by Ken Wilber, “An Ounce of Laughter”