by Christine Sine
Yesterday was Holy Humour Sunday. Did you miss it? Do you believe it’s acceptable to laugh and have fun in church? Sadly many of us don’t really seem to. We have grown up with an authoritarian God who is always serious and never playful. And now it’s time to change.
Evidently, for centuries in Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant countries, the week following Easter Sunday, was observed by the faithful as a day of joy and laughter with parties, picnics and tom foolery to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. It came from the idea of some early church theologians that at Easter, God played a joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. So on the Sunday after Easter, clergy and their congregations played practical jokes on each other, sang, danced and had fun.
I think Jesus loved to party. I suspect he also enjoyed a good laugh and now asks us to join the fun and plan our own Holy Humour Sunday. We might be too late for the week after Easter in Western Christian churches but in the Eastern Orthodox Church Easter Sunday was yesterday and so there is still time to get out and party, picnic and tell jokes. Or if you need more time to prepare than choose another Sunday between now and Pentecost.
The Easter laugh.
I only just learned about Holy Humour Sunday at The Inhabit conference this last weekend, but today have spent time thinking about how to celebrate, and this is so in keeping with The Gift of Wonder that I couldn’t resist highlighting it here. The Joyful Noiseletter is one place to look for ideas if you have trouble planning some fun times of your own, and the re: worship blogsite is a good place for liturgies if you are too fried after all the Easter activities to craft your own. However it shouldn’t be hard for us to come up with some fun ideas for church. Here are some suggestions that come to my mind:
Choose a fun liturgy
Re:worship blogsite is a great place to visit to add a more playful feel to the service. You might like to have some balloons and even party hats to hand out before the service for people to throw in the air. I particularly love this liturgy – complete with “holy humor breaks” in the service.
Joy is loose,
In the wiggles of the children,
The whispers of the youth,
The smiles of the adults.
We praise God for this glorious day,
Let the praise break forth
in the most unlikely places and in silly ways.
Joy and praise fills our hearts and in our songs
Let the laughter be deep,
for we are God’s people. (complete liturgy here)
Choose a word from your liturgy or a story from the scriptures to party around.
The liturgy that I put together for the Inhabit Conference ends with the lines “joy bubbles up within” so Lilly Lewin (yep Freerange Friday Lilly) suggested that we blow bubbles at the end of the liturgy. It was a fun way to end the liturgy which talked about the awe and wonder of our neighbourhoods. If we had more time (and a bigger budget) we would have had people throughout the congregation blow bubbles at each other. Or at the end of the service you might like to give people noise makers and have them go out “making a joyful noise”.
If you want to plan an after service lunch to go with Holy Humour Sunday, a good story to use would be that of Jesus making breakfast for his friends on the beach after his resurrection. I can’t imagine this was a serious sit down type of meal. Plan a party with on the beach type games and round the campfire songs to help you celebrate the resurrection. Obviously this would be instead of the sermon, though maybe it should be.
Put out pens and paper before the service and suggest congregants colour or create their way through the sermon.
This is probably the simplest way to introduce some fun into the service. I have some templates that people can colour, but having blank sheets of paper for those who love to create is essential. I love to do this when I preach in a church and will often have time at the end of the service for people to share what they have drawn or painted. Giving people permission to bring fun into church in this way is something I think we should do not just on Holy Humour Sunday but every week.
Let the Kids Preach the Sermon and plan the party.
I think that our kids would come you with some very creative and fun ways to run church if we just gave them the chance to try. Holy Humour Sunday seems a good time to do this.
Introduce Each Part of the Service with a Joke
This suggestion from April Friet is a great one and the prayer she wrote for prayers for the people is wonderful. I suspect that most of us would have trouble coming up with enough jokes to go through the whole service but there are some good resources to help us with this too.
Find the Humour in the Scriptures
Instead of a sermon have people share the scripture verse or story that makes them laugh. If you decide to do this make sure that the kids are involved too. I suspect that they will find humour in place that we have never thought it possible.
What Ideas Do You have for Holy Humour Sunday?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was introduced to Holy Humour Sunday by someone who attended my seminar at the Inhabit conference this last weekend. We can all learn from each other. What ideas do you have for how we can celebrate Holy Humour Sunday?