Sources out there tell us that “Holy Humor Sunday” or “Bright Sunday” has been variously observed across the centuries during the first days and weeks after Easter – testimony to the conviction of many of our early Church Parents (Fathers and Mothers) that God pranked the devil when He raised Jesus from the dead. Resources abound out there to help one observe the day– providing liturgies, songs, jokes appropriate for a Sunday morning setting,… Seriously, Google it for yourself. I promise: this is not a joke! (Funny how some can not laugh at my jokes… but lugh when I am serious! I just don’t get it!)
I decided to observe Holy Humor this last Sunday at the two churches I am “supplying” (while they secure a new, full-time pastor).
I acknowledged the difficulty of observing such a Sunday – in view of recent disasters in the area (we are just 20 minutes from Franklin, Tx [where tornados hit a few weeks ago]), recent terrorist attacks against houses of worship in Sri Lanka and San Diego, and serious health concerns of some parishioners.
“Holy Humor Sunday” I said, “can not and should not see us ignoring the real pain and suffering which fills and surrounds our lives. Nor should it displace or belittle the hard work of living the Christian life – of denying ourselves, taking up the cross and following Jesus. But, at the same time, Holy Humor legitimizes and represents a necessary counterbalance (or two) in the Christian life:
that Easter is a most glorious punchline
to all our stories (which should never be forgotten)
and that joy is among the promised gifts or fruits
of God’s presence in our lives!
And so I shared some jokes. All very good, mind you – in spite of some of the responses (or lack of responses).
I shared a picture of the Laughing Christ—and Cal Samra’s story of how it literally saved his life. (cf., The Joyful Christ: The Healing Power of Humor)
And, engaging stories of Abram and Sarai (in Genesis 17, 18 and 21), we talked about the difference between “profane humor” (“laughing at”) and “holy humor” (“laughing with”). The former is highly destructive of relationships and faith – as when both Abram and Sarai laughed at God’s promises. The latter is good and positive and life-giving – as when God helps Sarai give birth to laughter. “He laughs” is not just the meaning of “Isaac” but it is a reflection of the God who laughs with Sarai and who inspires His children to laugh.
“He who sits in the Heavens laughs,” says Psalms 2:4
– “filling the mouths of His children with laughter.” (Ps 126:2)
Balance (one of the gifts of paradoxy) is crucial, I believe,
to the spiritual life and spiritual formation.
To last week’s admittedly tough message that the “surgery continues”
is the necessary counterbalance that “there is joy in the journey.”
God has gifted us with two sets of tears –
tears of grief and suffering, yes,
but also tears of joy and relief.
It would appear that we need both
if we are going to see (and experience)
life in this world
clearly and fully and deeply.