Living Room Liturgy: A Liturgy of Laughter

I wrote a couple weeks ago about how social distancing may create an opportunity to practice solitude. What I’ve since realized is that for many of us it is not necessarily clear how to make the most of our solitude. Prayer is hard on your own. Without the weekly encouragement and example of praying together in communal worship, our own individual prayer lives can feel dull or diminished. So, I thought I’d try to offer some “Living Room Liturgies” that you, your family, or you with some folks on a Zoom call can use to give prayer a bit of structure. I hope you’ll share them if you find them useful! (Download the PDF here for a printer-friendly copy.)

A Liturgy of Laughter

Laughter is an important part of our lives together. It lightens the spirit, strengthens social bonds, spreads joy, and communicates delight. This liturgy intends to help Christians laugh with God and each other for all of those benefits just mentioned. 

At the same time, Sarah laughs when she hears God promise something that seems impossible to her (Genesis 18). So, our laughter may also be a sign that we love and worship a God who makes possible the impossible. 

Finally, our laughter is a sign that the devil has no lasting power. As Julian of Norwich laughed at the devil in her own sickness, we laugh with God in the face of all evil. Is there a time for mourning and grief? Yes. But there must also be time for laughter, for dancing, for joy.

May the Lord bless you as you pray!

What will you need?

  1. A Bible.
  2. A refreshing beverage.
  3. Any instruments you have laying around. No instruments? Hands for clapping and feet for stomping will do.

Where should you be?

Anywhere will do, but preferably somewhere comfortable. A living room is great or, if it’s pleasant outside, why not sit on your porch?

Who should you be with?

If your location is still under guidelines to social distance, then you shouldn’t be physically with anyone except the people with whom you live. By all means, Zoom or Skype or FaceTime with anyone else. Share the link to this liturgy with them so they can follow along.

How should I prepare for this liturgy?

Things will work best if one person guides others in praying the liturgy. It is written so that a guide can simply pray the words as they’re written, inviting others in when suggested. The guide is free to improvise or to elaborate as needed: some endnotes are included to give guides aids and potentially useful information.

The Liturgy

Words in bold should be prayed aloud by all.

Prepare for Worship in Silence 
Let us enjoy together a minute or so in silence. Breathe deeply. Stretch. Smile at one another.

Call to Worship
Let them with dancing praise Him, with tambourine and song;
With harp, make praise and music which to His name belong.
For God the Lord takes pleasure in those who are His own;
He crowns them with salvation, the humble ones alone.
*

Confession
Lord, we confess that we have sinned against you,
For we have not been joyful always, as You command.**
Forgive us we pray, as Christ pleads on our behalf.
We repent of this sin and, by Your help, we will live anew. Amen.

Act of Repentance
As forgiven people seeking to live into our repentance, let us discover joy together in the presence of God.

Option 1: Take time to think of the something that made you really laugh—I mean, belly laugh, cry laugh, might-pee-your-pants laugh. Let us each share that story with one another. Take time to laugh with one another.

Option 2: Pick a favorite up-beat song. Dance with one another. Stomp your feet. Clap your hands. Sing loud. Shout the lyrics out your window to the cars driving by. Laugh at yourselves and with one another. (Suggestions: “You Are Good” by Israel Houghton or “Jalali Yesu” by David Bailey.)

Option 3: See how long you can smile silently at one another. If you do not laugh, keep smiling bigger until you do.

Option 4: Do you have a game or a video that makes you laugh? Play it or watch it now, together, and pick up from here when you’ve finished. (Yes, the game or video counts as praying.)

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Let us give thanks and praise to the Lord our God. When I pause, please pray together by saying “You are good all the time; all the time you are good.”

Lord, we give you thanks for You have turned our mourning into joy.
You are good all the time; all the time you are good.
Lord, we give you thanks for You have given us gladness for our sorrow.
You are good all the time; all the time you are good.
Lord, we give you thanks for You feast our souls with abundance.
You are good all the time; all the time you are good.
Lord, we give you thanks for You have satisfied us with your goodness.
You are good all the time; all the time you are good.
Amen.***

Reading the Scripture
Let us hear now the word of God for the people of God. As the word is read aloud, whenever you are reminded of God’s own delight or when you see God giving others joy, respond to the word by raising your glass for a toast to God’s delight in us and the power of God’s joy in our lives.

Option 1: Psalm 18:20-29
Option 2: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Option 3: Genesis 18:1-15

Meditating on the Word
What did you learn about God from this passage, and why does that seem important? How did you feel as you listened to this passage? Did anything surprise you in this passage? Does this passage remind you of other Scriptures, and how do they help you better understand what this passage says?

Responding to God’s Word
Grab an instrument, or warm up your hands for clapping, and get ready to sing. Let us dance together, if you are able.

Joyful, joyful, we adore You,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before You,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

Always giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living,
Ocean-depth of happy rest!
Loving Father, Christ our Brother,
Let Your light upon us shine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.*****

Closing Collect Prayer
O Lord, for Whom nothing is impossible. Help us to laugh in the face of all that threatens us, to laugh in the face of the Devil himself, that we may live into the joy You’ve prepared for us in Christ our Lord, through whom we pray (and snicker) even now. Amen.

Closing Song (with glasses raised in celebration)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise God all creatures here below.
Praise God above ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.

Further Reading & Resources

  1. “A Playful Romp with God” on Christian Century.
  2. “Laughter is the Sound of Joy” on Desiring God

* This is Psalm 149:3-4 from the Seedbed Psalter. The whole thing can be sang aloud by all to the tune of many different hymns. For a list of tunes, click here. It can also be prayed as a call and response.

** 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

*** The guide should let the group decide which of these options is best for them at the time of their praying. You may wish to do all of them. If this feels too “silly” for prayer, just remember that laughter is a gift from God, a contagious gift, that prepares the spirit for joy.

**** This prayer is inspired by the words of Jeremiah 31:15-16.

***** These are verses 1 and 3 of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” You may wish to sing the other verses (or make up your own). You can find them here. It’s worth noting that in the The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration, which my congregation sings from weekly, this is the very first hymn. Joy is at the heart of our life with God and one another.

One thought on “Living Room Liturgy: A Liturgy of Laughter

  1. Pingback: Living Room Liturgies: A Liturgy of Lament – Theology Forum

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