Holy Humor Sunday
We at Salem United Church of Christ, along with many other congregations around the world, recognize the important, but often overlooked, sacred gifts of laughter and joy! Laughter is a gift that allows us to keep our hearts light, even at the most difficult of times. At a funeral, a funny story about a loved one can bring comfort to those grieving. During a worship service, the gospel can often be more effectively shared with humor and joy. And even in the midst of the observing the crucifixion of Jesus, we know that life will have the last laugh over death.
For centuries, in Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant countries, Easter Monday and “Bright Sunday” (the Sunday after Easter) were observed by the faithful as “days of joy and laughter” with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.
Parishioners and pastors played practical jokes on each other, drenched each other with water, sang, and danced. It was a time for clergy and people to tell jokes and to have fun.
The custom of Easter Monday and Bright Sunday celebrations were 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. Easter was “God’s supreme joke played on death.” “ Risus paschalis – the Easter laugh,” the early theologians called it.
In 1988, observing that the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection has been sorely neglected by 20th-century Christianity, the Fellowship of Merry Christians began encouraging member churches and prayer groups to resurrect the old Christian custom of Easter Monday or “Bright Sunday” celebrations, as the early Greek Christians called it.
At a time when Jesus’ resurrection has been subjected to an onslaught of ridicule and disbelief, the Fellowship sought to shore up belief through ongoing resurrection celebrations.
And so the idea continues today at Salem UCC. After the important holy days, Holy Humor Sunday has become one of the most anticipated services of the year at Salem UCC. The service includes special anthems and songs about joy (sometimes the songs themselves are jokes), scriptures focused on laughter and joy, and a special time of telling jokes related to faith and the church.
We hope you’re finding this website offers you a portion of the gift of laughter and a moment of joy in your day!
The Bible is indeed a very serious voice in our faith. It carries with it much wisdom and teaching and is recorded as the very word of God.
However, the Bible is also a reflection of human life. The sorrows, the challenges and the joys that come with living – the happiness and the laughter — that comes from a life knowing and serving God.
Visit Selected Verses for a few selected scriptures just to uplift the teachings of happiness, laughter and joy that is recorded in holy scripture.
Visit Holy Humor Samples for a few examples of jokes to get you pumped for Holy Humor Sunday!