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How to celebrate Holy Humor Sunday
As reported to The Fellowship of Merry Christians:

At the second annual Holy Humor Sunday service of Coloma (Ml) United Methodist Church, the pulpit was decorated with a A Lighten Up parament. It was created by Mary Ann Bower of Coloma, with the assistance of Rev. David F. Hills.

Pastor Hills wrote: "Thanks for the joy [The Joyful Noiseletter]  brings to the world, and for the consistent challenge you put before me to 'lighten upí a bit. All my usual liturgical resources were written by serious people -- more the work of overly pious professionals than a joy-filled people."

High on Easter joy

The First Presbyterian Church of Winter Haven, FL, held its third annual Bright Sunday celebration last April.
"The people enjoy it greatly, and so many look forward to its celebration each year," said Rev. C. Alan Harvey.
" I take great delight in planning the service with the Worship and Music Committee, and serving as worship leader."

Here are some of the things the church did:

  • Publicized its observance in the newsletter and newspaper articles, inviting people to dress in their brightest colors for worship.

  • Reprinted "The Risen Christ by the Sea" (in black-and-white) on the cover of the church bulletin.

  • The bell choir played for a prelude, "Dry Bones" --  a very spirited piece with dialogue, singing, and sound effects.

  • Worshipers were invited to bring various cut flowers and to place these on a wooden cross covered with wire, transforming it into a glorious floral cross.

  • Helium-inflated yellow balloons with the words "Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!" were placed in the windows and in the chancel area, along with some smiley face balloons. The choir processed in carrying beautiful jewel-colored balloons.

  • During the childrenís sermon, Rev. Harvey taught them the song "Iím Gonna Sing" (See p.16 of "Songs" by Yohann Anderson), adding the lines, "Jesus scattered fear and gloom, when He came out of the tomb." Each child then selected an Easter egg filled with candy from a basket.

  • A soloist sang "Gather Gladness from the Skies" by Charles Callahan, with the refrain, "Make each morn an Easter Day."

  • The sermon was entitled "Getting High with Easter Joy" and was based on Luke 24:1-9 and Ephesians 2:4-7. It incorporated humorous stories and jokes.

  • The service was framed musically with "Hymn to Joy." The congregation began by singing an Easter hymn, "Christ is Risen! Shout Hosanna!" and concluded by singing "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee."

  • Uninflated balloons with "Christ is Risen! Alleluia!" were distributed to worshipers as they left the service "as a reminder that Easter joy lifts us from doubts, despair, and death."

An upside-down service

Rev. Susan Hamilton, pastor of Parkside Community Church -United Church of Christ, wrote: "I am still receiving comments about our second annual Holy Humor Sunday celebration."

"I placed my collection of joyful Jesus pictures around the altar, along with large smiley faces on the paraments and on balloons in the chancel arrangements.

"While everyone was invited to dress as crazy as they liked, it was the choir who really outdid themselves by arriving in bathrobes instead of their regular choir robes. They sang, 'Are You Dressed for the Wedding?' by Martin/Angerman, while the youth blew bubbles from little bottles.

"The upside-down worship service began with the postlude and benediction, and proceeded in free-form order to the ending invocation and prelude. During the 'joke breaks' in the service (noted by happy faces in the bulletin), as I traveled the aisles with a cordless microphone, humor was shared by many members, ranging from a five-year-old to an 80-year-old.

"At the conclusion of the service, we released and let drop the 100 colorful balloons suspended from the ceiling. Everyone left worship in the most joyful and spirited manner that Iíve ever seen in my six years of serving here! Shouldnít that be the way we leave Godís house every week?

"Thank you for the information and inspiration for this truly unique worship experience, and for leading the way in recapturing Christís Spirit."

Blessings of joy

Central Wesleyan Church in Jackson, MI, held its first Holy Humor Sunday service last April, and it was so successful the church plans an-other one this year. Dr. Brad Snyder, the pastor, reported:

"We purchased some of the posters of 'The Risen Christ by the Sea' and wallet-size prints, and gave them out to everyone in attendance. My secretary created banners with many of the one-liners we found in JN and placed them all over the walls of the sanctuary, foyer, and entrance to the church.

"We gave out plastic eggs, with each containing a joke, to all who attended, along with a place mat provided by our local hospital on the benefits of humor and laughter.

"I selected 10 people to read their jokes at various times in the service. My sermon was about 50% funny stories and jokes. People laughed whom I had never seen laugh before. I can honestly say that the Lord greatly blessed that day."

It was a great day!

Pastor Bob Thompson of Corinth Reformed United of Church of Christ in Hickory, NC, reported that his churchís Holy Humor Sunday service last year "once again attracted much higher-than-usual post-Easter attendance. It was a great day!"

Ideas incorporated into the service included:

  • A 60-piece percussion ensemble from Lenoir-Rhyne College.

  • Participation in the service by the churchís A Class of Joy@ C mentally challenged adults.

  • The sermon on "Joy" began a nine-part series on "The Fruits of the Spirit."

  • Each offering plate was lined with one of Thompson's neckties in honor of the little boy who told his Daddy he was going to do what the preacher said: "Bring your ties and offerings."


"Each year our Holy Humor Sunday celebration seems to get better and better," reported Rev. Karl R. Kraft, pastor of the United Methodist Church of Mantua, NJ. For last yearís celebration, the churchís talented members produced a 33-minute video based on the popular "Survivor" TV show.

It was called "Survivor: the Mantua United Methodist Church Experience," and "the object of our version was to be the last one to survive the church," Kraft said. "I was the first one voted out!"

The video aimed to show that (contrary to the TV series) "the first shall be last and the last shall be first" (Mark 9:35).

Contestants were challenged to engage in church-related activities in order to survive the church.
"Immunity challenges" included eating as many cookies as possible during the after-church coffee hour, and staying longer than anyone else in a nursery filled with screaming and crying children. After each event, someone was voted out of the game, until there was only one survivor.

A video projector and a movie screen were used to show the film to the congregation during the service. "I canít remember the last time they laughed so hard!" said Kraft.

We are Easter people

Excerpts from last yearís Holy Humor Sunday sermon by Pastor Dick Dinges of Lynnehaven Colony Congregational Church in Virginia Beach, VA:

  • We live in a world that is >joy-impaired.í We are surrounded by chronic seriousness. This world likes to focus on the negative.

  • The Christian perspective, on the other hand, is positively joyful. Christians are Easter people. Because of Easter, we have the knowledge, the faith, the hope, and the relationship with the Lord that can turn sadness into gladness.

  • We can face the world and the circumstances of life with eternal optimism because we see the good that is coming. We will all be reunited in Christ. Nothing can separate us from the love of God!

  • Peter Marshall said, "Letís not live another day as if He were dead." Today I have chosen to celebrate Holy Humor Sunday. Laughter is a sign that we are filled with Godís blessings."

A very joyful Sunday

Rev. Mark Geisthardt, pastor of the United Methodist Church of Bloomer, WI, reported that last year his church used materials in past issues of [The Joyful Noiseletter]  to put on "a very joyful Holy Humor Sunday."

He added:
We hadnít heard the laughter of the Holy Spirit that much during a morning worship service for many years. You can bet weíll do it again in 2002"

The above comments were published in The Joyful Noiseletter, Vol. 17, No. 3, March 2002,  a publication of The Fellowship of Merry Christians -- on the web at www.JoyfulNoiseletter.com .

For ongoing information and resources on how many churches of  all denominations are celebrating Holy Humor Sunday this April  and future Eastertides, you may subscribe to The Joyful Noiseletter  by calling toll-free:  1-800-877-2757 or ordering from the  Fellowship of Merry Christians' web site:   www.joyfulnoiseletter.com.

The increasingly popular print, 'The Risen Christ by the Sea,' and  the books, Holy Humor and More Holy Humor (which also offer tips  on how to celebrate Holy Humor Sunday) may also be ordered from  the Fellowship.