Is it OK to laugh during Lent? I suppose that’s a little like the Pharisees asking Jesus, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” But back to Lent. This a time to reflect, repent and take a closer look at what we’re about and who this Jesus is? And for many, it’s a choice to fast, give up something we really enjoy eating or doing. Which, for most of us, is no laughing matter.
Well, yesterday, Bryan Wilkerson, pastor of Grace Chapel, defined fasting as “giving up something good to experience something better.” His text took us to the story when Satan tempted Jesus to “make bread from a stone.” After having fasted for 40 days, Jesus was hungry but still didn’t bite. He said to Satan,” No! The scriptures say, People need more than bread for their life.”(Luke 4:4,NLT)
So I wonder, what’s my “more than bread“?
Which, if I’m honest, I’ve been into bread a bit much during this pandemic. The three Grand girls were with me this weekend and they made pizza. I dug into it like I’d been on a 40 day fast. Sometimes I have to remind myself that carb is a four letter word. Alas, bread in various forms comforted and softened my edges during this pandemic in predictable ways.
Well, for many, 2020 felt like an unholy extension of Lent. Which got me thinking, maybe I need to fast from attitudes, not just appetites. How does my thinking about the pandemic, politics, people who differ from me clog sacred space meant for hope and laughter? There’s something healing about a good laugh, especially at my expense. It reminds me I’m not god so stop trying to control what’s uncontrollable or God.
Which may be why I needed my brother Dan’s email with some thoughts from the internet on aging and ways some of us coped during this past year. Here’s a sampling:
“My goal for 2020 was to lose 10 pounds. I only have 14 to go.”
“A recent study has found women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it.”
“Ate salad for dinner. Mostly croutons and tomatoes. Really just one big round crouton covered with tomato sauce and cheese. FINE, it was a pizza!”
“I see people, about my age mountain climbing; I feel good getting my leg through my underwear without losing my balance.”
So, why laugh during times like these? Maybe it’s a little like singing in the dark. Sometimes, it helps me to believe before I see. Laughter is the earthy sound of joy. It reminds me that because of the work and words of Jesus, I can live care-free in a care-full world. And whatever good I offer to Jesus leaves room for something better. Like something I never thought to ask for to satisfy hungers I never knew I had. And it doesn’t take much imagination to know sometimes our “more than bread” is simply a good laugh.
Even during Lent.
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