Sermon Series: SAD – Spiritual Affective Disorder
Title: Lighten Up
January 20, 2019
Rev. Sandy Johnson
I wanted to begin with a quote from comedian, George Burns, he said “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, and to have the two as close together as possible.” –George Burns
Let us pray: Lord God, I pray that this message I’m about to deliver is pleasing to you and just what the doctor ordered. May our time together be a blessing for all. Amen
A Yogi walked into the Zen Pizza Parlor and said: “Make me one with everything.” When the Yogi got the pizza, he gave the proprietor a $20 bill. The proprietor pocketed the bill. The Yogi said “Don’t I get any change?” The proprietor said, “Change must come from within.”
Our winter series is a play on the Seasonal Affective Disorder that can affect many people during this time of year. Our series, Spiritual Affective Disorder, is designed to help each of us to focus and realign our selves to come into a deeper relationship with God. Utilizing the tools we are learning during our time together, will improve our ability to shoo away the doldrums of winter, and restart a stagnant relationship with Christ.
The first week we talked about flipping the switch – connecting to God through these spiritual practices so that our spiritual affective disorder could be minimized, and we could fulfill the calling God has for each of us. Last week we played around with music. Music has a huge impact on our spiritual lives and using music to draw us closer to Christ is an important tool that is available to all of us, at any time. Whether we listen to music in the car or at home, or sing a song in our hearts, music can lift our mood and remind us of God’s gracious love.
Our assignment last week was to reflect on the sounds of life. How did it go? Were you successful in listening to the sounds of the world? What did you hear? Were you able to see how music affects your mood, attitude or connection to the Divine? Did you pick one song that stayed with you all week?
This week I think is my favorite. Our title is Lighten UP and it’s designed to help us use humor to lighten our load and experience joy.
I guess the first question we should ask is, “Does God have a sense of humor?” What do you think? Well, I found some evidence of God’s sense of humor, that I’d like to share with you all. (Jeff – show slides here)
Ok, we’ve established that God has a sense of humor! God created us to enjoy humor and humor is one of the tools we can use to be healthier.
We have seen that there are many funny things in creation, let’s look at some humor in the bible.
“The prophet Jonah (found in the book of the same name) was a “drama queen” who makes us laugh in retrospect. After running from God, being rescued from drowning by spending three days in a fish’s belly, and then complaining that God rescued Nineveh from destruction, Jonah throws a tantrum about a vine dying because it made him so hot and uncomfortable to lose its shade. In Jonah 4:9 he complains about the vine saying, “I am angry enough to die.” Doesn’t it make you want to say, “Good grief, Jonah. Lighten up!” God must have a sense of humor, after all he put up with and used Jonah for his glory and purposes.
“Proverbs is a funny book at times. If you read it aloud to a group, it’s difficult not to laugh. Proverbs 11:22 says, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” Doesn’t that give you delight on the days you feel more piggish than beautiful? You wonder if Solomon had just fought with one of his many wives when he said, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” (21:9).
“Of course, God’s humor is never cruel the way humans twist it to be at times. In fact, God is entirely pure and untainted, thus so is his humor. Such a God inspired the author of Proverbs to write, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful” (15:13), or seen from the opposite point of view in chapter 15, verse 30, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Aren’t you glad?”
You may already be aware that laughing actually has numerous health benefits, it is indeed true that “Laughter is the best medicine!”
“It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.”
Why would this be important? We will be better disciples of Jesus Christ, better able to fulfill His ministries here on earth when we are in good physical, emotional and spiritual health. Laughter is good for our mind, body and soul.
“Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.
“With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.
“Laughter is good for your health
Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Laughter burns calories. OK, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.
“Laughter helps you stay mentally healthy
Laughter makes you feel good. And this positive feeling remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.”
“I believe God may have given people a means to help deal with stressful times and trying circumstances by the simple remedy of laughter. Psalm 2:4 say, He who sits in the heavens shall laugh He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; Proverbs 31:25 says Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come. Laughter is a gift for our enjoyment. I cannot help but think that God created laughter on this earth for His amusement, too. In the Book of Genesis, it is written, God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me. ~Genesis 21:6
“God is the One who thought to include smiles on our faces. God is the One who created the sounds of joy and excitement when we laugh. He is the One who thought to include a dimension to life that helps chase away the blues on cloudy days. I believe God’s plans for laughter in our lives serve many purposes.
“Humor and laughter also give our minds an opportunity to rest, which can lead to gaining new perspective or insight into our current situation, relationships, or circumstances. Learning to incorporate humor and laughter into our daily routines can help change our lives and reduce the negative impact of stress.”
In the midst of mid-winter, when we are in danger of succumbing to Spiritual Affective Disorder, we can use laughter to point us to the light. To the light that our scripture says has been seen, the light that overcomes darkness, the light that is the light of Christ. Laughter is truly the best medicine; laughter reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously; and laughter connects us with God.
Let us pray: Glorious, hysterical,
funny God! We thank you for the gift of laughter. We thank you for laugh-lines, for sore cheek
muscles when we laugh too much, we thank you for the boost laughter gives to
our lives, spiritually, emotionally and physically. When things get tough, remind us to laugh
more, pray more and trust in you more.