Over the past few decades, many churches have come to celebrate the first Sunday after Easter as Holy Humor Sunday. In the early Christian church, the first Monday after Easter was celebrated as Risus Paschalis, a Latin phrase that means “Easter Laugh.” After the 40 days of Lent where people fasted, performed acts of penance, and gave up some of their favorite things in remembrance of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, and after Holy Week when the faithful remembered with sorrow the Passion and death of our Savior, Risus Paschalis was the day where people could just blow off steam, and have a good time, in celebration of the Ressurection.
On that Monday, people would tell jokes, play tricks, and even engage in dumping buckets of water on their Pastors (which may perhaps have been real reason Pope Clement the X finally banned the holiday in the 17th century.
As Christians, sometimes we can be a little bit on the humorless side. I’m afraid that very often we don’t celebrate our faith as much as we mourn it. Often ministers and other religious leaders concentrate so much of their ministry in talking about the evils of sin in this world that they forget to rejoice in the things God has blessed us with. Like the Pharisees of old, we can see sin in so many activities that people enjoy that we forget that as an Easter people, we should not concentrate so much on denouncing sins as much as we should be celebrating the life God has given us, and celebrating the Risen Christ.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 20 verses 19-31, we read John’s account of Jesus appearing to the disciples for the first time after his rising from the grave. There they were, locked in a windowless room, fearing that they will be discovered and put on trial themselves as followers of a convicted traitor to the Roman Empire. They were filled with guilt and shame over their actions of the previous few days, abandoning Jesus, denying even knowing him. Suddenly, without warning, Jesus appears in the room with them. You can almost imagine him going “boo” and the disciples all needing to be peeled off of the ceiling in shock and surprise. You can imagine their joy and delight and know that their master, their teacher, their friend really was the Son of God. And that not only had he shown that no power on earth was capable of destroying him, but that no matter what they had done over those terrible days when he was handed over for trial and execution, he not only forgave them but welcomed them with open arms and empowered them with the Holy Spirit to be in ministry for him.
We should always share in that joy. As Christians, we should always remember that Christ loved us so much that he gave himself up to death on a cross for us so that we might never be separated from him. We should laugh and sing and dance as an Easter people, not claiming to be perfect, but knowing that even in our sins and brokenness Christ rose for us so that we might know that no matter what, loves us and is always with us.
The Pharisees, the Romans, yes even Satan all thought that they could kill Jesus, separate him from us for all time. But the joke was on them. No power on earth or in hell can conquer the love of the risen Christ. Set let us celebrate, let us sing, let us laugh, and rejoice in our Lord and Savoir.
To help celebrate this day, here are some jokes to help you perhaps experience a good laugh, and in the joy of laughter feel the love of Jesus.
If I count my blessings, and some of them are heavily taxed, do they still count as blessings?
A man dies, and finds himself in a small room furnished with a couch and a tv. There’s another guy sitting on the couch watching the TV. “So, is this heaven or hell?” the newly deceased man asks. “Well, there are no windows or doors, and no apparent way out,” the man on the couch answers. “So, this is hell.” the newcomer responds. “I don’t know,” says the other guy without looking up. “They did give us this big screen TV.” “So, maybe this is heaven?” Maybe, but the TV only gets one channel.” “Ok, so maybe this is hell?” “I’m not sure. The only station the TV gets is PBS.” “So maybe this is heaven after all.” exclaims the relieved newbie. “Yeah, except for one thing.” “What’s that?” “It’s always pledge week.”
There’s an old stewardship joke about the minister who encouraged his congregation to “give till it hurts.” Unfortunately, the congregation had a very low tolerance for pain.
What did God say when God first saw Niagara Fall? “Oh my Self!”
An atheist was telling a Christian that there is no God, and no life after death. So the Christian said. “Well, let me ask you this: A horse, a cow and a deer all eat grass. Yet a deer excreats tiny little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is/” The atheist said “I have no idea.” Then the Christian said, “How can you talk about God when you don’t know poop?”
A lady was mailing an old family bible to her brother in another part of the country. When she took it to the post office, she was asked if there was anything breakable in the box. She replied “Only the commandments.”