SUNDAY, APRIL 15: We know what you’re thinking: Did I miss some memo about April Fool’s Day being moved to April 15? The short answer: Nope! But today is the Christian chance to laugh at the devil, play practical jokes on pastors and revel in the joy of the risen Christ, because it’s Holy Humor Sunday.
Never heard of Holy Humor Sunday? The idea isn’t new, and in fact, Greeks in the fledgling centuries of Christianity were the first to order up some laughs on the Sunday after Easter. Early Church theologians mused that God played a practical joke on the devil by resurrecting Jesus from the dead, and this became known as the great “Easter laugh.”
Eastern Orthodox Christians continued the tradition with “Bright Sunday,” during which congregations would revel in gladness and hold family gatherings. (Some modern churches—even non-Orthodox Christian—take a mirthful approach to this day by encouraging members to wear their brightest clothing. Wikipedia has more on Bright Week.) In 1988, the idea of a humorous Sunday after Easter was “resurrected” by the Fellowship of Merry Christians, and many church leaders now declare this Sunday as one of the most enjoyable days of the year. Is laughter just what the pastor—er, doctor—ordered? You bet! Check out the Joyful Noiseletter for jokes and other inspirations you can use to liven up this humorous Sunday on your side of town.
Looking to make the laughs last beyond today in your congregation? It’s an important concept, according to best-selling author Fr. James Martin SJ, who last year interviewed with ReadTheSpirit for his new book, “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.” While traveling to promote an earlier book, Martin says he made a startling discovery: Christians just want to laugh! Whether learning the joyful aspects of saints’ lives or seeking permission to make a joyful noise, one thing is clear: Happiness is key!