Culture At Large

Laughing all the way from the tomb?

Nathan Bierma

Did your church observe Humor Sunday this year? Were there balloons and streamers in the sanctuary, and did you pastor wear a clown nose? If not, you weren't at First Congregational Church in Lorain, Ohio, where Humor Sunday is a fixture on the liturgical calendar, right after Easter.

I was prepared to condemn Humor Sunday as frivolous until I read that it purportedly comes from the early church.

"It has its roots in history," the pastor of First Congregational told her local paper. "Some call it ‘Bright Sunday.’ It’s observed by the faithful with joy and laughter, parties and picnics, to celebrate the Resurrection. ... The custom is rooted in the early church theologians who said God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead and that Easter was God’s supreme joke that he played on death and Satan."

I see the point, though I worry about those who bring great grief and sadness into the pews with them, and feel the church is just trying to laugh it away. But the truth is, balloons or not, all churches have to wrestle with the drastic, jolting shift in mood from Lent to Easter, and balance the joy of Christ's fatal blow over death with the ongoing brokenness that still lingers until he comes back.

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Worship