Holy Humour: Be of good cheer

Didya hear the one about the preacher who dreamed he was preaching? Then he woke up and he was!

Yme Woensdregt

Didya hear the one about the preacher who dreamed he was preaching? Then he woke up and he was!

The Fellowship of Merry Christians has been playfully encouraging churches to celebrate Holy Humour Sunday on the Sunday after Easter. They’re trying to encourage Lutheran laughter, playful Presbyterians, amusing Anglicans, chortling Catholics—in short, chuckling Christians of all stripes.

The practice comes from an old Christian custom which celebrated Easter Monday as Bright Monday, a day to laugh and frolic, a day of special festivities, of picnics, pranks and practical jokes. We’re not exactly sure of the origin of this playful celebration, but it may have been inspired by a sermon preached by 4th century Greek theologian John Chrysostom. He pictured the risen Christ confronting the devil and laughing uproariously. God played a joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. Christians can laugh because God’s new life has been born in the world. The early theologians called this the “risus paschalis,” the Easter laugh.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. Never forget that the devil fell by force of gravity. He who has the faith has the fun.” An old adage has it that the devil can’t stand the sound of laughter and slinks away from it.

Bright Monday was a day to laugh, to frolic and delight in the good news of resurrection life. In “The Easter Book”, Rev. Francis Weiser notes that “in early days of Christianity, all of Easter Week was one continuous feast, a week of intense happiness and spiritual joy.” These kinds of celebrations continued until they faded away in the last couple of centuries in increasingly secular societies.

The Fellowship of Merry Christians wants to revive the practice by transplanting the celebration to Holy Humour Sunday on the Sunday after Easter. It’s a day of holiness and laughter—two things we don’t often see side by side. In too many churches, Sunday morning worship is a serious and solemn time.

But here is an opportunity for us to rejoice. We’re supposed to be people who celebrate the good news of God’s presence in life. Paul calls us to rejoice always. It’s high time for worship to be marked by this kind of joy.

More and more churches are beginning to celebrate Holy Humour Sunday. Some ministers come dressed as a clown, embodying Paul’s notion of being “fools for Christ’s sake.” Others tell jokes in their sermons. Some invite people in the congregation to tell funny (clean!) stories. Some churches use balloons. Almost all report using joyful hymns, upbeat music, and lots of laughter in worship.

It’s a day for us to stop taking ourselves so seriously, and to remember that we worship a God of joy and healing. The Bible is filled with laughter. When Sarah is told she will give birth in Genesis 17, she is instructed to name her child Isaac, which means “he laughs”.  Many of Jesus’ parables are filled with humour. Imagine a camel going through the eye of a needle. Imagine a party given for a kid who came home after wasting his half of the inheritance. Who ever heard of camels being swallowed easily by those who choked when trying to swallow a gnat?

But Jesus pokes at our pretensions, turns our world upside down, invites us to imagine a world where all people can enjoy life because it’s good for everyone. In a day when no one would ever think of eating with someone who wasn’t their social equal, Jesus was accused of being a glutton, someone who would eat with just anyone. The righteous folks clucked their tongues, tsk–tsking at this outrageous behaviour.

A story is told about Groucho Marx. As he was getting off an elevator, he happened to meet a clergyman. The clergyman came up to him, put out his hand and said, “I want to thank you for all the joy you’ve put into the world.” Groucho shook hands and replied, “Thank you, Reverend. I want to thank you for all the joy you’ve taken out of it.”

It’s time to change that sad assessment of the church, don’t you think? It’s time to rejoice always.

May the laugh of Easter—the risus paschalis—be yours today and every day. Join us at Christ Church for Holy Humour Sunday this weekend, at 9:15 and 11 am.

Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Cranbrook Arts has opened the doors of their  new gallery space to the public with their inaugural exhibit, Kootenay’s Best.
‘Kootenay’s Best’ opens Cranbrook Arts’ new gallery

This exhibit has been in the works for the past several months and features the work of more than 50 emerging and established artists from across the Kootenays

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read