Thursday, February 18

Posted by Laurel Garver on Thursday, February 18, 2010 8 comments

Is it OK to laugh during Lent? It's a question I wrestled with when I first got the idea to host a humor-themed blogfest.

I'm new to observing Lent; the church I now attend, a liturgical Presbyterian church plant, has only existed since 2006. Reconnecting to more historic expressions of Christianity has been quite the learning experience, since I grew up low-church evangelical.

One of the passages read at Ash Wednesday services hit squarely at my thinking about Lenten observations:
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." --Matt. 6:16-18

Basically, the moment you get to thinking "Look at me, I'm so pious!" you've lost any real spiritual benefit. Lent isn't about looking pious, it's about reorienting yourself in a God direction, making yourself teachable by pushing away stuff that distracts you.

So that gets me past practicing Lent as hair shirts and wallowing. But does that really open the way for humor?

Yes. Because there's one thing I know for sure:
God makes human wisdom look foolish.

He promises a barren elderly couple they'll parent a great nation.
They give God derisive laughter, and he gives them Isaac (laughter).

Story after story is just like this. Reversals. Weird commands that rescue: smear blood on your doorposts, walk around Jericho seven times, let only those who drink from the stream like a dog go to battle.

It's moments of weakness and stupidity that bring the humility necessary to change and grow. Those who can't laugh at their own folly only become hardened in it.

So come, friends, let us revel in the folly that leads to growth.

How have you used humiliations and reversals to shape your characters?
(To join in the Whoops! Blogfest on Monday 2/22, sign up HERE.)


  1. Jesus laughed so much that the Pharisees accused him of being drunk. so go ahead and laugh during Lent. Jesus certainly would.

  2. Great post, Laurel. I know God has a good sense of humor, not just because of what we read about him or what he does, but because he created us in his image and gave us the ability to laugh.

  3. Laughing during Lent for me is essential. I'm not the kind of person who can go without laughing every day. I think God likes it when his children are happy. Lent gives me a chance to reconnect and thank God for the laughter every day of my life. :) Great post!

  4. I read that same passage from Matthew on Sunday and was reminded again that it's what's in the heart that counts.

    Also, I named my son Isaac because of its meaning.

  5. Laughing during Lent is like laughing with friends and relatives when you come together on the event of someone's death. After the first person cracks a joke or tells a funny story about the dearly departed, the group bonds and shares in the joys and sorrows of life.

  6. "God makes human wisdom look foolish." I love that. What a great idea, Laurel! Yes, I have used those things to shape my MC. So fun, don't ya think?! :-)

  7. Michelle: Yes, Jesus shows us what humanity should be. Great point.

    Elle: Humor as part of image-bearing. I like that.

    Yat-Yee: Interestingly, the heart and outsides really do match in this Matthew story. The "woe is me" faster is sick at heart, while the "connecting with God" faster has joy inside and out.

  8. Mary: That's a wonderful image.

    Shannon: Yes! I can't say I was entirely conscious of how often I do it in my writing until I wrote this post. But even my most scary and dramatic scenes have some comic element.