It was supposed to be a sacred moment: Christmas Eve service – right after Mary gives birth, followed by a quick transition to the shepherds in the field.  The church was blanketed in an intense silence punctuated by the gentle bah of a lone sheep. A rapid switch between the profound miracle that just happened and the one about to, giving the audience time to reflect on both God and angels touching earth during that holy night.

The problem was I couldn’t stop laughing.  The actress playing Mary was really into the labor scene.  She screamed; she howled; she rolled around the floor.  She probably taught more people about labor than they would learn in the delivery room! Then the agony was over. The stage turned dark except for a few glowing stars and all that was heard was the lovable sound of a baby lamb.  For some reason, I found the shift hilarious and starting laughing.

My laugh was not a quick giggle, but a belly laugh so loud that it shook the seats in my row and was heard all the way up to the last row of the balcony.  It was louder than some jet aircraft.  And as it circled around the cavernous church, mind you, filled with congregants supposed to be in deep reflection, I couldn’t even tell you what was so funny.  The sweet sound of a lamb? Not hardly.  The newborn Savior of the world finally here in human form?  I don’t think so.  Labor pains? Not at all.  Maybe the abruptness of it all had gotten a hold of my silly bone and wasn’t going to stop tickling it.  I was making a fool of myself, knew it, but was powerless to stop.

Fortunately, the audience was good natured about my faux pas – it was Christmas after all!  Maybe they already knew laughter is important and should be practiced daily, though maybe in a place more appropriate than a Christmas Eve service.  Proverbs 17:22 states, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Thousands of years before medicine began to tell us that laughter can prevent heart attacks, reduce stress or enhance brain chemistry, God told us all that is true!

Our God is a God of joy!  He wants us to be happy and to laugh.  Joy is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of Jesus.  Laughter is the way that we can express the joy in our hearts – it is the shortest distance between two people; it is an instant vacation.  Most importantly, laughing invokes feelings of happiness and joy. Instead of being all gloomy and frustrated because there is no perceived solution, laughing lifts us up out of our pool of problems and plops us on solid ground where we can gain some new insights.

So practice LOL (Laughing Out Loud)!

If you can’t muster up a laugh each day, try to fake it by at least smiling once a day.

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