Holy Laughter or Cracking Up with the Saxons

Holy Laughter, or Cracking Up with the Saxons

 

An essay on “Holy Laughter” and “The Laughing Spirit”
Jackson Snyder

 

Jack Sporting the Sanguine Mask of a Laughing AfficianadoJackson Snyder Bible   Search this Site  

 

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Topics in this Essay:
Read the Whole Thing | Jackson Snyder Bio | Holy Laughter at Church

The Day I Rolled Under the Piano | French Laughter Misunderstood
From the Nightclub to the Mass | Holy Laughter in Wesley’s Journals

Laughter as a Sign of Justification | “Jesus Never Laughed!!”

Hilarity in Mercying | Following the “Sons of Laughter”   
The Meaning of ‘England’ | Surprised by Joy

 

 

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Genesis 17:15-22.  And Elohim said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.  I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her; I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?  And Abraham said to Elohim, “O that Ishmael might live in thy sight!  Elohim said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac*.  I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.  When he had finished talking with him, Elohim went up from Abraham.      * (Yitschaq, qtcy, Isaak [LXX] - Isaac means “laughter” – Hitchcock’s)

 

Psalms 126 (Song of the returning exiles - Song of Ascents)  When Yahweh brought back Zion's captives, we lived in a dream; then our mouths filled with laughter, and our lips with song. Then the nations kept saying, What great deeds Yahweh has done for them!”   Yes, Yahweh did great deeds for us, and we were overjoyed.  Bring back, Yahweh, our people from captivity like torrents in the Negeb!  Those who sow in tears sing as they reap.  He went off, went off weeping, carrying the seed.  He comes back, comes back singing, bringing in his sheaves.

 

Luke 15:3-10. So Jesus told them this parable: “Which one of you with a hundred sheep, if he lost one, would fail to leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, I have found my sheep that was lost.’  In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance.  ‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, I have found the drachma I lost.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.    Freeware Pic  World Wind Virtually visit any place in the world.

 

Elmo and Gang {Names have been changed to protect the anointed.}

    I received a phone call from a pastor Friday.  He told me what’d happened at a small group prayer meeting the night before.  His group of about a dozen was sitting in a prayer circle.  Each saint prayed a nice prayer in turn then they had some quiet time.  What seemed like five minutes was actually a half an hour of silence, while each remained in an attitude of unity and expectation.  There was certainly a lot to be praying about, since this small group was preparing to move the whole church to a new location - an office building that was offered to them free of charge for as long as they wanted to use it.  But they wanted the ‘for sure’ sign from the Heavenly Father Yahweh as to whether their decision was right or not.  They petitioned the All-knowing One for a sign and waited for it to drop down.

   The group included some brand new folks who had limited experience in the faith community.  The others had mostly left denominational churches because they’d disagreed with policy or been hurt.  All decided to try again with a new church and a fresh start.  One of the founding couples, Elmo and Gladys, were sitting in silence that night.  Elmo is a very serious retired man.  He’d worked hard as a border guard for many years.  He even took a gunshot wound in the line of duty.  Elmo doesn’t laugh much because, to him, ministry’s very serious business - he sinks a lot of his time, money and prayer into it.  It’s no laughing matter.  His wife, Gladys, is a charismatic Christian - she prays and fasts a lot, chases demons out of the neighborhood, and is often sought out for her natural empathy and counseling skills. 

   The pastor looked at his watch, and just as he was about to end the season of silence with the “Lord’s Prayer,” Elmo, completely out of character, began to chuckle some.  His chuckle turned into a laugh, and his laugh became a fit of laughter.  Of course, that ended quiet time and surprised everyone.  Elmo hardly smiled much less laughed so hard as to fall off the chair unto the floor.  And then still he laughed right there on the floor.

   The equally seriously religious spouse Gladys wasn’t impressed by her husband’s disturbed behavior in the middle of a sincere, even grave, prayer meeting.  So Gladys stuck out her finger of prophecy and began to give Elmo a thrashing Jeremiad in front of the whole group.  But Elmo didn’t pay a lick of attention to his wife (as he usually did).  For Elmo was out of control, snorting and guffawing more recklessly than he had since childhood - and he’d never rolled on the floor in his life.

   As Gladys continued her lecture, Harvey - one of the new members – started to clear his throat, then coughed a cackle that sent him off into laugh-land with the guy on the floor.  Then Harvey’s wife, another new believer, started giggling too.  Gladys, with her finger still pointed at her husband, who by now had rolled about ten feet, tried to remain in the role of the prophet until she too cracked up - and then there were four on the floor.  The sniggering eventually caught up with everyone left in the circle, including the clock-watching preacher, and after many minutes of solid cackling, Harvey’s wife Selma rolled under the table in the next room.  {OK, I’ll admit to the slight embellishment of this story!}

   Everyone realized that the holy Spirit was answering his/her prayer in a mysterious, unusual and somewhat wacky way.  Hey, these church members are always very serious about their Christian duty, and they have to be - since theirs is a new work, a frail work.  Most new churches fail in the first eighteen months.  Maybe they’d been too serious, relying on their own way of doing things, their own business acumen, their own sense of gravity or notion of the importance of planting yet another church, as if there was actually another church needed.  But now the manifestation of  ‘holy laughter’ gave them something far more important to consider - that is, the revelation of the holy Spirit’s will in regards to their serious hard work that had sprouted from a sense of common mission and such honorable intentions.

   The prayer meeting came to sudden conclusion when a lady with the gift of inspired speaking (profhteiaV), spoke the words of Yahweh to those assembled there, words not so unlike the Spirit used to provoke the assembly at Philadelphia:

Revelation 3:8,10.  I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming to try those who dwell upon the earth.  (And see 1 Thessalonians 5:20)

   Remember, I mentioned that this story was relayed to me on the phone.  At this point, the excited pastor lost his cell phone connection and the line went dead.  He called right back, and he said, “Jack, what do you think of that?”  I replied with a bit of my own witty humor,

 

I think that wireless technology needs to catch up with the cell phone revolution, Don’t you?

 

   And now I point the prophetic finger in your direction and ask you, what do you think?  Have you ever heard of holy laughter? 

 

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Piano Roll

   In his book, The Charismatic Gifts and Wesleyan Theology, the author Jackson Snyder writes in the third person about his first experience with the (so-called) “laughing spirit.”

[It was] 1968: Freddie was in his early 20's and recently converted. He wanted to be “filled with the Holy Ghost” and went to the altar of the Assembly of God church after an evening meeting. As he tarried, several teen-agers knelt with him to “pray him through.” After a long time in earnest prayer, one of the teens got an anointing and laid hands on Freddie. He began immediately to speak aloud in tongues, praising God. When this happened, a spirit of laughter came upon all those who were around the altar (there were others there too who were not involved with praying for Freddie). Everyone began to laugh hysterically, unable to control it, nor want to. They all laughed for a space of at least five minutes. The fellow that started it all rolled down the aisle laughing and ended up beneath the piano. {end quote}

That piano roller was me at age fifteen.  Can you imaging this refined Doctor of Theology rolling across the church carpet and under the piano in fits and torrents?  I’m in better shape now to roll under a piano, perhaps as a barrel would roll.  (Actually, I’m not in that bad of shape.)  No, I don’t have the strength now as then.  (Like when I asked the dear lady in Austin how fat she was, she replied, “I do not yet take up two seats on an aeroplane.  I thought that was really funny.)

 

French Laugh

   The laughing spirit caught up with me again in a Pace, Florida a few years ago.  I was attending a prayer circle held in the house of the apostle Ken Sumrall.  We were all there to pray for the terminally ill.  A woman from France was visiting, who spoke very little English.  In the middle of the meeting, while we were all very serious and silently praying for the healing of a case of ovarian cancer, this rude French lady just started snickering right out loud.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t understand a cluck of it because she was laughing in French, which was somewhat rude, so I recall. 

   The lady sitting beside her was known as “the stone lady.”  She was like the Norwegian missionary woman who said, “Jesus never laughed” – the stone lady never laughed either.  Hers was a very rough countenance, almost frightening actually – not much to laugh about for fear she might hit you one.  But she caught the laughing spirit from the French girl and started cackling like a chimp.  Quickly, the “anointing” caught on, and several ended up on the floor.  It was hilarity at a serious moment, but – I’ve got to tell you – it was pretty glorious to take part in.  I might add – the woman being prayed over was healed of terminal ovarian cancer than night, so we heard soon after.

 

From Nightclubs to Christ  

   Anyway, there was one other occasion when I experienced holy laughter worth passing on.  It was on a Sunday morning – early.  My partner in the music business and I’d just finished up a lounge act.  We were both young and single, trying to make a career out of music.  He was a Catholic and I was an AOG man, but neither of us had been to church in years.  We got back to our hotel room at about 3 AM after the show.  We were relaxing for a while then we looked at each other and both of us started in laughing and couldn’t quit.  We fell on the floor, tears running down our faces, stopped for a while, and started up again.  What was religious or godly about that?  Nothing, except that we found ourselves attending Easter mass later that morning at the Catholic Church miles away – and we were greatly blessed from receiving the Eucharist together.  I know I needed revival and am pretty sure he did too. 

   That reminds me of the title of one of Jack Van Impe’s first tapes he sent you if you made a donation to his ministry at about that same time.  The title of the tape was, “From Nightclubs to Christ.”  What took him thirty years to do, according to that tape, took us only eight hours, for Mass was at noon the next day.  That Mass was an awakening for me, as a non-catholic, non-sacramentalist backslider going forth to the altar in that mystery-laden place of worship, receiving what they believed to be the very body of my Savior from the hand of a Roman priest and his blood from a common cup.  Had we not laughed in the middle of the night, we certainly would not have experienced HIS suffering, death and resurrection at the sixth hour.  And though this was in 1975, it was the first awakening in my heart of the doctrine of the real presence, which I believe fervently yet today.

 

Laughter Wesley’s Journal and Exploration

   We think of this “spirit of laughter” as some new manifestation, and, like the baptism in the holy Spirit, folks don’t understand it unless it’s happened to them.  Wesley didn’t understand it when he first encountered it in a prayer meeting in 1740.  He wrote in his journal:

In the evening such a spirit of laughter was among us that many were much offended. But the attention of all was fixed on poor L[ucretia] S[mith], whom we all know to be no dissembler (i.e. phony).  Most of our brethren and sisters were now fully convinced that those who were under this strange temptation could not help it.
   Only E[lizabeth] B[rown] and Anne H[olton] were of another mind, being still sure anyone might help laughing if she would (i.e. keep from laughing if she wanted). This they declared to many on Thursday; but on Friday {the 23rd} God suffered Satan to teach them better. Both of them were suddenly seized (with laughter) in the same manner as the rest, and laughed whether they would or no, almost without ceasing. Thus they continued for two days, a spectacle to all; and were then, upon prayer made for them, delivered in a moment
(Journal, June 21, 1740).

   Wesley doesn’t make a judgment on “holy laughter” one way or another, except to say it was irresistible, and those who insisted it could be resisted went to laugh land for two days themselves. 

   Twenty years later, Wesley reconsidered “holy laughter” as he studied the journals of John Walsh, a Methodist reporter, who was attending the Everton revival.  Walsh writes and Wesley quotes him in his journal:

On Monday, July 9, I set out, and on Wednesday noon reached Potton, where I rejoiced at the account given by John Keeling of himself and others. He was justified … on that memorable Sabbath, but had not a clear witness of it till ten days after; about which time his sister … was also set at liberty.  {In those days, when a person was justified, there was expectation of an outward sign of an inward change.  Not so today.}

   I discoursed also with Ann Thorn, who told me of much heaviness following the visions with which she had been favored; but said she was, at intervals, visited still with such overpowering love and joy, especially at the Lord's Supper, that she often lay in a trance for many hours. She is twenty-one years old.

   We were soon after called into the garden, where Patty Jenkins (also twenty-one} was so overwhelmed with the love of God that she sunk down, and appeared as one in a pleasant sleep, only with her eyes open; yet she had often just strength to utter, with a low voice, ejaculations (i.e. interjections) of joy and praise; but, no words coming up to what she felt, she frequently laughed while she saw His glory.  (Journal, July 29, 1759 http://www.evanwiggs.com/revival/history/riss3.html)

   We might notice that, since Wesley records Walsh’s sentiment regarding the “frequent laughing,” that he agreed with Walsh - that laughing manifested irresistibly as the young lady lay prostrate in adoration, beholding the glory of the Father.  We might wonder what’s so funny about G-d that sometimes even the staunchest conservatives are made to fall on the floor, laughing in his presence.  But funny isn’t what it’s all about, except to those outside the circle.

 

Laughter as a Sign of Justification

   Besides that of Yahweh laughing at the folly of man, I can’t think of any passages in the Bible that actually condone holy laughter.  But I know that it is indeed holy, even though I’m not naïve enough to think that the devil has no counterfeit.  But consider the passage in Luke 15 where, just after the parable of the lost coin, when Yahshua reveals the moral of the story (v.10): Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.  In Wesley’s accounts, the “holy laughter” followed someone’s justification or was an actual manifestation of justification.   (You Baptists say “salvation” instead of “justification.”) 

   Remember Elmo?  The last time I spoke to him about his soul he doubted he’d been filled with the spirit even though he’s a seasoned, gifted missionary.  I can’t imagine he could doubt any longer.  He’s glad Yahweh made a laughingstock of him for the sake of his justification, sanctification, not to mention for using him as the unlikely catalyst for a prophecy revealing the answers the group sought in prayer.  When I was a youth and rolled under the piano, the whole shebang started off when the fellow for whom we were praying received the gift of the spirit for which he was tarrying.  At that moment, I could no more keep my soul from rejoicing over him than my lips and lungs from laughing.

   I can tell you, when the spirit of laughter comes upon people who are solemnly praying, there’s nothing funny at all – the hilarity (Gr. cheerfulness) is a response to something other than a good joke.  Somebody is justified, somebody is spirit-filled, someone is healed, someone is set free, somebody gets to rejoicing in the spirit for the supernatural works of grace that Yahweh has done through his Son of Man – and it’s a good thing, a great thing, and it’s an awesome thing that it’s contagious.   Bennett Cerf, the writer and publisher (who you old-timers will remember as a long-time panelist on What’s My Line) was right on when he said, “The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed.”  I don’t know if he was speaking about holy laughter, but his words are nevertheless an impeccable truth. 

 

No Laughing Matter for Teachers in the Judgment

   I looked to the Internet to read what the teachers had on “holy laughter.”  Almost all the search engine results were extremely negative – it’s unscriptural, occultist, psycho-phenomenological or, of course, right out of the devil’s toolbox.  (For instance, see John Mark ministries article “Holy Laughter and Company.”)  The teachings found through a Google Search remind me of the Norwegian missionary who angrily cried out against some who were laughing during the service on time – she shouted in her deep, heavily accented voice, “JESUS NEVER LAUGHTED!!”  It amazes me that Bible teachers want to tell you that making a joyful noise unto Yahweh isn’t permissible because it isn’t biblical, but eating foul unclean animals if just fine because, though such is prohibited in the bible, that’s been annulled.  No wonder the Teacher of Righteousness warns us

James 3:1.  LET NOT many of you become teachers, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness. 

I also noticed that all the teachers who are against manifestations of the spirit consider themselves the pillars of evangelical Christianity.  One positive source I found on Google in regards to Holy Laughter uses some scripture. 

   One source is Psalm 42:5 quoting it as, “God has a smile on His face.”  I didn’t remember that verse, so I looked it up.  Psalm 42:5 really says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in Yahweh!” – they just slightly misquoted the psalm-singer. 

   Another positive source uses Judges 19:6.  “Let your heart by merry.”  But in checking the context of the passage, an innkeeper and his daughter are commending a Levite and a harlot to make merry as they drank wine.  It’s amazing how the Scripture can be used out of context to prove about anything. 

   The fact of the matter is, people were praying earnestly, something happened to somebody spiritually, and that person’s reaction to the supernatural goes around contagiously.  It seems to me in the contexts of the laughter I’ve mentioned, if the devil made them do it, he’d rather have them writhing in torment or rolling upon each other {in orgiastic fashion} as he has his own in Hollywood movies doing.  If the devil made them do something, the more authentic doings would seem to be swearing a blue streak, cussing up a storm or engaging in a Christian pugilistics (a fist fight).

 

Hilarity in Mercying

    So let me conclude by giving you scriptural authority for “holy laughter,” then give you some advice.  I’m not afraid of being judged with extreme strictness.  Oh, I did find one Scripture proof text on the Internet that might refer to laughing – it was on my own site.  Paul talks about the charismata – the seven spiritual graces: prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership and mercy.  Regarding mercy, the RSV has Paul saying in Romans 12:8 “he who does acts of mercy, (let him do them) with cheerfulness,” but literally, Paul says, “the one mercying, (let him do it) in hilarity.”  Hilarity means, “with a big hardy-har-har.”  That must mean with holy laughter.  And here’s one more – a bit more complicated though.

 

The Sons of Laughter

   When the Angel of Yahweh promised to make a great nation out of the child of Abraham and Sarah, they both laughed at Yahweh – in derision, disbelief, or in joy – I don’t know.  Abe and Sarah were too old for fooling around.

(Genesis 18:12  So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “Now that I am past the age of childbearing, and my husband is an old man, is pleasure to come my way again?” NJB)

Yahweh heard Sarah laugh and she denied it, then Yahweh said directly to her, “Yes, but you DID laugh” (Genesis 18:15).  Well, Sarah didn’t mean to; she just couldn’t help herself.

   When that son did make his headway, he was named Isaac, which means “Laughter.”  I’ve heard of girls named “Joy,” nobody in this country is called “Laughter.”  Anyway, this Isaac surnamed “Laughter” had a son named Jacob, who had twelve sons, known as the Patriarchs.  Jacob and his sons and his sons’ sons, and even his daughters, came to be known as the Sons of Isaac or the Sons of Laughter or “Isaac’s sons.”  (Get the classic book with maps, Tracing Our Ancestors: Traces the European American Back to Father Abraham and Beyond by Haberman - $10!)

   Even after Isaac’s sons went into captivity after 784 BC, some stuck together, ending up on the south shore of the Caspian Sea, corresponding to modern-day north Iran.  The place to which they resorted came to be known as “Sakland” or “Beth Sak” – meaning the land or house of the Isaac’s Sons – the sons of laughter.  By King Josiah’s time (6th Cent, BC), they were on the move again, settling in and ruling Scythia, i.e. modern-day Ukraine.  There they became known as the Sacae, which means, “Isaac’s Peoples.”  In Scythia, the Sacae met up with kinsmen who’d been wondering for twelve hundred years, known as the Angles.  These people wore the horns of bulls and worshipped calves, just as they had back in Samaria so long before.  Their tribal name betrays their origin – Angle (Engle) means “calf” in Hebrew, as in “golden calf.”

   The Angles, or “calves” and the Sacae, now known as “Saxons” for “Isaac’s Sons” or “Sons of Laughter,” teamed up as they had in Israel a millennium before and continued westward from Saxony in modern-day Germany to northern France and, by 300 years after Yahshua, to England, which still bears the name of the Anglo-Saxons – “Sons of Laughter; People of the Calf.”  England means “Calf-land.”  It could just as well have been called “Laugh-land,” since the Saxons were there too.

   The Anglo Saxon peoples, in the years to come, spread through Great Britain, South Africa, the New World, India and Australia by way of the British Empire.  So you see today the origin of our common tribe – every person in this room has descended from the Saxons, the Sons of Laughter, the Sons of Isaac.  It’s absolutely no wonder at all that Yahweh should, in these end times, visit his people Israel with the laughter of our birth mother and father – Sarah, the laughing princess of the world, and Abraham, the father of many tribes – who named their son – the one promised to become as prolific as the sands of the sea and the stars of the sky – Isaac, laughter. 

   To my knowledge, this holy laughing doesn’t happen in Christian worship anywhere else but in those lands where the progeny of the Saxons now dwell, awaiting the return of the one Elohim who spoke to their father four thousand years ago,

Genesis 12:1-3 “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves. 

   You have something great to rejoice about.  You have just received an indication of your heritage and inheritance, and a reminder of a promise made – that HE will gather you in like chicks to the hen.

 

Surprised by Joy

   In the examples I had time to provide, it means that when people of our heritage stand in expectation of a sign then loosen up how we think it’ll manifest, something unexpected, new and FRESH may come our way.  I can tell you, Brother Elmo knows what it means to be a “son of the promise” now – nothing more unexpected could have possibly confirmed his justification in a more Scriptural sense than what actually happened to him.  And likewise, maybe the thing you want the most for your ministry and assembly will come to pass in the way you least expect it.  Someone sows, someone reaps, someone partakes of the holy food.  All families of the land are blessed.

   My hope for you is that in this next year, the unexpected will break forth like the spring calves break their fences – that Yahweh will smile on your efforts in such a way that you’ll be surprised by joy.  Amen.

 

April 16, 2005

 

Jackson Snyder bio

Jackson Snyder is available for your Motivational Gifts, Temperament or Leadership Training Event.

Jackson has been a pastor, sacred musician, Bible teacher and missionary for 27 years.  He was called to preach as a youth in A. A. Allen miracle ministries.  Since that then, he has continued to work in and teach the Gifts of the Spirit. Jackson received his Bachelor degree magna cum laude from Indiana University, Master of Divinity from Emory University cum laude and Doctorate from the Wesley Synod.  He also studied with the University of Biblical Studies, Earlham School of Religion and St. Vincent DePaul Regional Seminary.  He is an ordained minister currently serving churches in the Marianna / Panama City (FL) District of the United Methodist Church. Jackson has been offering Gifts seminars since 1990.  He has a popular Internet ministry that includes much information and assessment material in Motivational and Spiritual Gifts at www.JacksonSnyder.com.    He is also a Certified Professional Pneumatologist (CPP).   Contact him here with an internet form.