Seems like I have made lots of friends in the last year. Working for Baptist Women in Ministry, well, it has opened doors to wonderful new friendships, including a friendship with Susan Sparks. Susan is the pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York. It makes me proud to know that we have a Baptist woman pastor in the big city of New York! And I love knowing that we have a preacher among us who is brave enough to wear a colorful T-Shirt in the pulpit–while preaching!
But Susan is not only a gifted preacher and minister, she is a comedian. No, really! She does stand-up comedy! And not only is Susan a Baptist preacher and a comedian, she has a law degree and was a practicing attorney before she felt called to ministry and went off to seminary.
So Susan is now a pastor, and recently, she became a published author. I got my copy of her Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor a couple weeks ago.
But I was among the fortune few who had the opportunity to preview the book. I sat at my computer one evening and read the entire manuscript. If I had been reading it in book form, I would have said that it was one of those books that I could not put down, but since it was on a computer screen, I guess I would have to say that it was one of those books I could not turn off.
After reading the manuscript, I wrote this endorsement: “Laugh Your Way to Grace is more than a delightfully written book; it is a Saturday afternoon conversation with a favorite friend at the neighborhood coffee shop. Imagine sitting in a big comfortable chair; sharing moments of laughter, a few tears , and some honest questions about God and faith; and wishing hard that the time didn’t have to come to an end—and that feeling is what you will experience when reading Laugh Your Way to Grace. I hope that this is just the first installment in an ongoing Saturday afternoon conversation with a new favorite friend, Susan Sparks.”
I thought you might enjoy reading a snippet of the book, and so here are a few paragraphs from the Introduction:
“Many of us have been lulled into believing that humor is inappropriate in spiritual realms. Sometimes it’s seen as disrespectful or even blasphemous. I can understand that. I was raised in a church where you would walk in, sit through the service, then walk out three inches shorter, bent over from all the guilt. Not exactly a wellspring of joy or laughter. Of course, the question we must ask is this: Inappropriate according to whom? (Hint: If this were multiple choice, God would not be included in the answer choices.)
I am not saying that laughter is the only face of God. However, if we are made in the image of the divine, and if a core element of human beings is joy, then one face of the holy surely must also be joy. Granted, it is one that is consistently ignored, but it is a core element nonetheless.
This book is not an attempt to teach people how to have a sense of humor or to train future standups (although I do teach a class on standup comedy for clergy, brave soul that I am). Nor is it an attempt to put a glib spin on every event of our daily lives. I wrote this book for one simple reason: to remind us of our inherent ability to laugh.
Look, not everyone feels like being funny. You may not even feel happy. But somewhere deep down, your humanity yearns for joy and, if allowed, your heart will respond. Laughter is the gift that you received at birth, the one thing you were able to do freely when your age was in the single digits, the gift that may fade but never fully disappears. Laugh Your Way to Grace is intended to give you permission to reconnect with your own sense of joy and hope—a deep life force that you were given a birth and still carry within.” (xv-xvi)
You can order the book from Skylight Paths Publishing!