The Rev. Laura A. Csellak, Chaplain
Have you heard of Holy Humor Sunday? It’s a way to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection in an innovative way. In congregations where we celebrated this day, one thing we’d often do is take a familiar hymn and write new lyrics for it. For example, the first verse of “Go tell it on the Mountain” became “Go tell it on the smartphone, FaceTime and Skype and way too many Zooms, Go tell it on the smartphone that Jesus is alive”. My sermon on Holy Humor Sunday would include jokes that I told poorly (I always manage to mess up the punch line).
Holy Humor Sunday is actually an old Easter custom, begun in the early centuries of Christianity. The week following Easter Sunday was called “Bright Week”. It was observed by the faithful as “days of joy and laughter” with parties and picnics. Boys and girls would drench each other with water to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Churchgoers and pastors played practical jokes on each other, sang, and danced.
The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians like Augustine. Christian scholars said that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. They called this “Risus paschalis – the Easter laugh. Indeed, when Jesus rose from the dead he overcame sin, death and that darn old devil.
In 1988 the Fellowship of Merry Christians began encouraging churches and prayer groups to resurrect Bright Sunday celebrations and call it “Holy Humor Sunday,”. Their theme was: “Jesus is the LIFE of the party.” Holy Humor Sunday typically occurs on the Second Sunday of Easter and brings back crowds to churches on a Sunday when church attendance typically drops dramatically.
One writer for a Lutheran magazine says: “We can find a way to mix faith and humor, stir it into our lives, and let it simmer into a rich stew that will feed all those around us.” Pastor Daniel McDonald of North Bay Community Church in Clearwater, FL, says: “Laughter releases tension, and we have enough stress these days. I think we all need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. This is really God’s world”. On one Holy Humor Sunday Pastor McDonald gave one of the world’s shortest sermons. He announced that the focus of his talk would be on sin. ‘Don’t do it,’ he said from the pulpit, then he sat down. I’m guessing many of the readers of Faith Matters would hope their pastor would preach such a short sermon as well!
I’ll end this article with my favorite laugh. The setting is Jesus teaching to the crowd.
Jesus: “Be kind to everyone.”
Someone from the crowd: “Wait, even Gary?”
Another person from the crowd: “Yeah, Gary’s the worst.”
Jesus: “Look, we’ve been through this. Yes, be kind to Gary as well.”
Gary: “Ha! Suck it, losers.”
Jesus (with a hand on his forehead): Not now, Gary!
For more inspiration and insights from past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.