LOL – Laugh Out Loud

Published 6:29 pm Wednesday, April 17, 2013

This year April Fool’s Day occurred on the Monday after Easter. Ecclesiastically that was actually a fortuitous event. And add to that Tryon’s own version of April Fools Day on Saturday, April 6, and it was a very special week, although it is likely that few are aware of its actual significance.

For centuries, in Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant countries, Christians celebrated Easter Monday and Bright Sunday – the Sunday after Easter – as special days of joy and laughter, a time to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection in “any and every way possible” with all kinds of parties and picnics, singing and dancing, special worship services, and a goodly number of practical jokes. Bright Sunday is related to the Medieval Feast of Fools, a special Sunday when the worship service and sermon were simply devoted to fun, fun that needed no justification other than the knowledge that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead. The custom of Easter Monday and Bright Sunday celebrations were rooted in the reflections of early church theologians like St. Augustine, who suggested that God played a kind of grand practical joke on the powers of evil by raising Jesus from the dead. Easter was “God’s supreme joke played on death itself.”

To be sure there are plenty of examples of joy and laughter in the Bible. Proverbs, for example, says, “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). In Philippians the Apostle Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4.4). Psalm 32 admonishes us to “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice” (Psalm 32.11). So humor is a part of our relationship with God.

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Numerous researchers have suggested the positive relationship between laughter and health. Laughter has long been known to help in overcoming conflict. Yet we are often so serious about our faith or our problems that we forget to laugh. Maybe we need a renewed emphasis on laughter. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to work on my jokes.

So how many choir directors does it take to change a light bulb?  No one knows, because no one in the choir ever watches the director. And how many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb? None. Presbyterians don’t believe in change. And what’s the greatest joke ever?

The one God played on evil, suffering and death on Easter morning. That one is true, and ultimately the reason we can laugh to begin with.

Although it’s not really a part of the lectionary readings for churches today, maybe we need to revive the custom of Bright Sunday. But if you stop to think about it, learning how to “LOL” – “laugh out loud” – is something that we should do every week, not just in the days after Easter. In fact it’s something we should do every day. As people of faith, we have a lot to celebrate.

– Dent Davis, Pastor Tryon Presbyterian Church