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Monday, August 19, 2013

Holy Hilarity

This past Sunday, our church celebrated "Holy Hilarity Sunday," which I learned arose in the early days of Greek Christianity to celebrate the Easter Season. According to Michelle Bearden, for centuries the observance was kept with "days of joy and laughter," parties and picnics, in the week after Easter. Originally called Bright Sunday, the day was meant to keep the excitement of the Resurrection alive, with churchgoers and pastors playing practical jokes on one another, singing, and dancing.  The custom was rooted in the early church theologians, who reasoned that God had played a tremendous practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. They called it risus paschalis—the Easter laugh!

In the spirit of the day, our pastor (the Rev. Jeff Cheifetz) shared the following story, which can be found in the book, Holy Humor:

During an ecumenical gathering, someone rushed in, shouting, "The building is on fire!"
  • The Methodists at once gathered in a corner and prayed. 
  • The Catholics passed a collection plate to cover the damages. 
  • The Baptists cried, "Everybody into the water." 
  • The Lutherans posted a notice on the door declaring fire was evil, because it was the natural abode of the devil. 
  • The Congregationalists shouted, "Every [one] for [her]self!"
  • The Seventh-Day Adventists proclaimed, "It's the vengeance of an angry God!" 
  • The Christian Scientists agreed among themselves that there really was not a fire. 
  • The Presbyterians appointed a chairperson, who was to appoint a committee to look into the matter and make a written report to the next Session. 
  • The Episcopalians formed a procession and marched out in good order. 
  • The Unitarian Universalists concluded that the fire had as much right to be there as anyone else.
And here's a few gems he shared that have been culled from church bulletins:
  • The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church
  • Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands
  • The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus"
  • The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy"
  • Don't let worry kill you - let the church help
And finally, 
Once a minister parked her car in a no-parking zone because she was short on time and couldn't find a space with a meter. So she put a note under the windshield wiper that read: "I have circled this block ten times. If I don't park here, I'll miss my appointment. FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES." When she returned, she found a citation from a police officer along with this note. "I've circled this block for ten years. If I don't give you a ticket, I'll lose my job. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.”

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