It was a number of years ago that I first heard of “Holy Humour Sunday.” I grew up in a tradition where to laugh at anything religious was tantamount to heresy. Church was serious business. The slightest giggle would get nasty looks from my elders. Not only was nothing funny, but nothing was particularly joy-filled, either.
Laughter and joy go together. If we’re going to take joy in the Easter story of Resurrection, we can also see the laughter in it. The Sunday after Easter is celebrated in many churches as Holy Humour Sunday. It’s an ancient tradition that has been growing in favourable reception in recent years, where we acknowledge that Easter is God’s great joke on death.
It’s found in some traditions as early as the 1200s, and its roots have within them the idea of God laughing in the face of evil and pulling the “great joke” on Satan from the dark of the tomb. And so, priests would put funny stories into sermons, causing the congregation to laugh, symbolizing the “risus Paschalis,” the Easter laughter that comes as the devil tries to keep the gates of hell locked against the descending Christ, acknowledging that the Resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate joke on Satan and all the forces of evil.
So, this Sunday, come and have a good laugh at the Holy Humour of it all!
Reverend Deana Dudley – MCC Toronto