Many American churches are resurrecting an old Easter custom begun by the Greeks in the early centuries of Christianity − "Holy Humor Sunday" celebrations of Jesus' resurrection on the Sunday after Easter.
For centuries in Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant countries, the week following Easter Sunday, including "Bright Sunday" (the Sunday after Easter), was observed by the faithful as "days of joy and laughter" with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus' resurrection.
Churchgoers and pastors played practical jokes on each other, drenched each other with water, told jokes, sang, and danced.
The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. "Risus paschalis - the Easter laugh," the early theologians called it.
In 1988 the Fellowship of Merry Christians began encouraging churches and prayer groups to resurrect Bright Sunday celebrations and call it "Holy Humor Sunday.” Many churches from different traditions responded enthusiastically.
Westminster Presbyterian Church will join in observing “Holy Humor Sunday” on April 8. Dress in bright colors and joyful clothes; think of some jokes to share with others; sing joyful songs. Come prepared to share the “Easter laugh” of resurrection joy.
It’s clearly a movement of the Holy Spirit to shore up belief in the resurrection of Jesus.
Rev. Bill Schram began his ministry with Westminster in March and is the current Interim Minister. Bill attended McCormick seminary in Chicago and met his wife Jenny there. They have served as co-pastors and in separate positions. He has served churches in urban, near suburb, small town, county seat towns in various positions such as pastor, associate pastor, interim pastor, and hospital chaplain. He and Jenny have two natural and one foster daughter. Delightfully, they now have a granddaughter to enjoy.