Make ‘Em Laugh

Margaret Barr's "Strange Children" [ballet], 1955 / photographer unknown

Did I ever tell you about the time I got kicked out of class?

It was a Spanish language intensive in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I spent the first semester of my senior year. Something was funny–I don’t remember what–and my classmate and I locked eyes and started to laugh. Since we were in class, and our teacher was kind of strict, we immediately looked away and tried to pull ourselves together.

We failed.

Whatever it was, I know it wasn’t that funny, but we could. Not. Stop. We laughed uncontrollably, and when our teacher sent us out of the room to compose ourselves we laughed even harder. It probably took us ten minutes to calm down. A classic case of church giggles.

I mention this because a similar thing happened at Saturday’s wedding. When the bride and groom knelt for the marriage blessing, they accidentally slid the kneeler forward on the tile floor.

Bridesmaid and two flowergirls enter the church, St. Marks, Darling Point, c. 1930s by Sam Hood

I know. It’s barely funny at all. The three of us laughed and immediately tried to stop. And . . . we failed. I would stop, and then the bride would start, and then I would start again. We passed that laugh around for what felt like ten minutes at least. I knew that almost no one had seen the (again, not very funny) reason for our laughter, so I was especially mortified.

Of course, no one sent me out of the room. (Pro Tip: A pastor is an essential component of a church wedding.) And even though it felt like forever, it was probably only a two minute laugh break. (Wedding guests, if it was longer than two minutes, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.) After some deep breaths, some staring at the floor, and two pastoral intonations of “Let us pray”, we made it through the rest of the ceremony.

It was embarrassing, but it was also kind of great. Even though they had no idea what was funny, most people joined in the laughter. So we surrounded the couple with our prayers, our support, our love, and our laughter. And it was good.

Musical stars Madge Elliott and Cyril Ritchard's wedding, St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 16 September 1935 / photograph by Sam Hood

What was your worst / best case of church giggles?



Filed under Marvelous Miscellany, Ministry Matters

3 responses to “Make ‘Em Laugh

  1. marilyn lux



  2. My daughter’s middle school choir concert. She told me a boy was going to solo (which was a rare occurrence in middle school.) What she didn’t tell me was he couldn’t sing. When he began singing I began losing it. My mother in law thought I was having a seizure, I was trying so hard not to laugh but not succeeding. I bent down to hide
    myself from the boy singing. i hated the idea of him seeing me…but I could not stop to save my soul. It has gone down in family lore as the time Mom really lost it.


  3. Susan

    I was visiting my best friend’s grandmother’s church in rural Virginia as a teenager. During the prayers, my friend’s younger sister prayed aloud very earnestly for her dear friend Charlie Chin who was sick. My friend and I were, of course, the only ones to know that Charlie was no human, he was my friend’s sister’s pet chinchilla. Oh, how we laughed and laughed. I’m sure the members of the church felt like we were very disrespectful teenagers, but we could not stop laughing 🙂


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