More and more pastoral circles have been talking about and offering “Holy Humor Sunday” since the mid 80’s. Some churches celebrate it on the 4th Sunday in Lent, “Laetare Sunday”. Laetare means “to rejoice” in Latin and comes from the traditional entrance for the Mass on that day, from Isaiah 66:10: Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her.”
So there has been a day dedicated to laughter and joy for centuries, but somehow more and more churches have lost touch with it, perhaps even fear it. Pope Clement X officially outlawed the Risus Paschalis in the 17th century.
And yet, laughter and joy is so important to the spiritual experience of knowing God and being with each other. “Joy” is in the Bible 335 times! “Rejoice” – 230 times! And “Happy” 87 times! Jesus’ first miracle was providing wine for a wedding party. He also said we shouldn’t worry numerous times! He said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b He was often getting criticized for having too much fun! And little children wanted to be with him – how many times have we had to try to coax children to not be afraid of someone, and these children were drawn to him – not because he was a sterile, serious, and frightening – but because he filled them with joy and love and trust!
So why should we not have ONE Sunday in the church year to go all out and celebrate humor!!?!! There is something truly vital about laughter. And creative! Old jokes just aren’t as funny as new jokes and the creative living brilliance of a good current joke can be a new creation – a joy – an insight – all things we contribute to God!
I am offering on April 30th a Holy Humor Sunday. It is a week off, but the youth were serving on that Sunday, and they did an absolutely wonder-filled job! So I put it off a week. We will be celebrating Easter all through May, so joy is a part of the experience for all of May as well! And next year, we can plan it long in advance and have lots of participants! But for this Sunday, it will be a mini intro – a dip into the humor pool! ;-)