Holy Humor Sunday

The following is a repost from https://www.joyfulnoiseletter.com/hhsunday.asp

As we begin to leave the shadows of Lent behind and the glory of the empty tomb, we are going to celebrate Holy Humor Sunday! In these sometimes-troubling times we shall pause to stand in God’s corner and laugh as those who have been delivered to victory, and we have. Let us heal our days and our spirits as we use the Sunday following Easter to reacquaint ourselves with joy. I will have more to share with you as the time grows closer. In the meantime, read the articles below. They will give you an overview of what lies ahead.

Churches resurrect an old Easter custom

Many American churches are resurrecting an old Easter custom begun by the Greeks in the early centuries of Christianity-“Holy Humor Sunday” celebrations of Jesus’ resurrection on the Sunday after Easter.

For centuries in Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant countries, the week following Easter Sunday, including “Bright Sunday” (the Sunday after Easter), was observed by the faithful as “days of joy and laughter” with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.

Churchgoers and pastors played practical jokes on each other, drenched each other with water, told jokes, sang, and danced.

The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. “Risus paschalis – the Easter laugh,” the early theologians called it.

In 1988 the Fellowship of Merry Christians began encouraging churches and prayer groups to resurrect Bright Sunday celebrations and call it “Holy Humor Sunday,” with the theme: “Jesus is the LIFE of the party.”

Many churches from different traditions responded enthusiastically. Holy Humor Sunday services are bringing back large crowds to churches on a Sunday when church attendance typically drops dramatically.

If you Google “Holy Humor Sunday” on the Internet, you’ll be amazed at how widespread Holy Humor Sunday celebrations on the Sunday after Easter have become among churches of all traditions. It’s clearly a movement of the Holy Spirit to shore up belief in the resurrection of Jesus.

Both the religious and secular press are now reporting on this phenomenon.

Lutheran laughter

Sonia C. Solomonson, managing editor of The Lutheran, wrote a splendid article titled “Two Parts Faith, One Part Humor” in the magazine’s April issue, reporting on how some Lutheran congregations are observing Holy Humor Sunday.

For instance, Pastor Jim Arends of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in La Crescent, MN, said, “This gives us a chance to celebrate the joy of Easter in a fun way a week after we’ve celebrated it in a glorious way… We don’t celebrate this to increase attendance but it has had that effect.”

The church used the regular liturgy, the appointed lessons, and added Easter songs, songs of joy and camp songs. The congregation’s musical groups contributed especially joyful and fun selections.

Solomonson’s article mentioned the painting of “The Risen Christ by the Sea,” and how to order it.

She concluded: “so who says we can’t laugh and celebrate in our places of worship? 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.”

Published by Rev. Russell

Pastor at the Lake City United Methodist Church in Lake City, Michigan.

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