A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
Message from Vic Casad: April 28, 2017
Notes from the Heartland
In 2009, Mary Brooke and I went with a delegation from the North Texas Conference to Africa University, the United Methodist school in Zimbabwe, for the dedication of the Bishop Alfred Norris Health Centre and to announce the scholarship program for the Bishop Rhymes Moncure Health Education scholarship fund. The North Texas Conference raised the money through our churches to make these two ventures possible.
While we were touring the various rooms in the clinic, the examination room, the patient rooms, the reception area, we came across a room with a curious nameplate on the door: The Laughter Room.
“What is this?”
We walked in and there were funny posters all over the walls. There was a TV with a variety of comedy movies: The Three Stooges, I Love Lucy, Abbot and Costello, Blazing Saddles. There were stacks of comic books and joke books. “This is the place” we were told, “where patients and staff come when they are having a particularly bad day. We believe laughter is good medicine and has a role in both physical and spiritual healing,” said our tour guide, “so we have a laughing place.”
Mary Brooke and her brother Clayton Oliphint perked up when they saw this room. “This is a room our father would love.” Bishop Ben Oliphint had died two years before. He was instrumental in the founding of Africa University, and the siblings decided they wanted to honor their father with a fund that would go to the upkeep of the Laughter Room. Bishop Oliphint was known for always cracking jokes and playing gags on people. One of the main themes of his life was “never take yourself too seriously,” and if he thought you were, be careful… you were about to get it!
There is a long tradition in the Church going back centuries designating the Sunday after Easter and the whole of the Easter Season for that matter as Riscis Paschalis, The Easter Laugh. The theological lore has it that with the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning, God played a practical joke on the devil and death causing the whole of creation to break out into laughter. And so it was not inappropriate to tell jokes and put on funny skits on the Sunday after Easter so as to join creation in the Easter laugh.
The contemporary theologian Jürgen Moltmann is known for having said that Easter is about the laughter of the redeemed and the dance of the liberated.
So if we are Easter People and the Redeemed of God in Christ Jesus I wonder what a laughter room in a church would look like. Believe me, there are some churches that could really use one.
In His Service and Yours,