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Summary: For a second year in a row, our church has celebrated Holy Humor Sunday. This sermon on Thomas, and Jesus’ statement, “Peace, be with you!” tries to bring some sense of “holy humor” into an otherwise less than humorous world.

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“Peace Be With You”

John 20:19-31,

Holy Humor Sunday, April 27, 2003

Purpose: For a second year in a row, our church has celebrated Holy Humor Sunday. This sermon on Thomas, and Jesus’ statement, “Peace, be with you!” tries to bring some sense of “holy humor” into an otherwise less than humorous world.

Easter is a time of surprises. While worship has always been in a state of tension between our understanding of piety and the joy that fills the heart by hearing the good news, today to laugh or not to laugh, becomes the question. To restate Shakespeare, “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to control the impulse and maintain decorum, or to give in and enjoy this day, is totally up to you!”

[There’s a time for the congregation to share their humorous stories or jokes (provided in the bulletin or of their own) immediately proceeding this sermon. We took the jokes/stories from Holy Humor and More Holy Humor complied by Cal & Rosie Samra.]

Illus. There was a lady who on the Saturday afternoon before was doing some baking for her Easter dinner the next day. There was a knock at the door. She went to find a man, dressed in shabby clothes, and looking for some odd jobs. He asked her if there was anything he could do. She said, "Can you paint?"

"Yes," he said. "I’m a rather good painter."

"Well," she said, "there are two gallons of green paint there and a brush, and there’s a porch out back that needs to be painted. Please do a good job. I’ll pay you what the job is worth."

He said, "That’s great. I will be done quickly."

She went back to her baking and did not think much more about it until there was a knock at the door. She went, and it was obvious he had been painting for he had it on his clothes. She asked, "Did you finish the job?"

He said, "Yes."

She said, "Did you do a GOOD job?"

He said, "Yes. But lady, there’s one thing I would like to point out to you. That is not a Porsche back there. That is a Mercedes."

Or how about the man and a women who had been friends for many years, who had died and gone to heaven. They told St. Peter that they wanted to be married.

“Take your time and think about it,” said St. Peter, “you have eternity so take fifty years and see me then.”

Fifty years later, the couple returned and again told St. Peter they wanted to be married. “Well,” said St. Peter, “take another fifty years and really think about it….”

But the couple was insistent, “We know we want to be married now….”

St. Peter replied, “Well, take another fifty years and if we don’t have a preacher up here by then, I’ll

marry you myself.”

Easter is a time full of surprises…

This second Sunday of Easter BUILDS on the good news we celebrated LAST Sunday - Jesus was dead, now alive; the women come to the tomb in despair then leave the tomb in delight. Quite a story. Lots of questions, but as we learned last week, the bottom line, what this season is all about is that CHRIST IS RISEN...and your response…(HE IS RISEN INDEED!)

Holy Humor Sunday continues in the celebration. It celebrates the fact that the resurrection of Jesus is God’s ultimate joke on evil and death. It is a testament to the God who, as the Psalmist says in the second chapter, fourth verse, "sits in the heavens and laughs" at the foolishness of humanity and any forces that might seek to thwart divine purposes.

And in churches all around the world, the celebration has commenced. Each year, more and more congregations of all persuasions all over the United States, and in far corners of the world, are celebrating the Easter season in new ways.

There is the Bavarian practice that has the faithful gathering back in church on Easter afternoon for a time of story-telling and practical joking. There is the early orthodox tradition in the Easter Monday gatherings for stories, jokes, and anecdotes. To this day in Slavic regions, Christians gather the day after Easter for folk dancing and feasting in the churchyard. It is variously known as Bright Monday, White Monday, Dyngus Day, and Emmaus Day in one country or another. Latin speakers call it Risus Paschalis - God’s Joke. Today, you and I call it Holy Humor Sunday...a time to laugh.

But as wonderful as last Sunday made us feel, especially after the good food, the wonderful Sunday School program, and the awesome worship and great fellowship, Monday dawned, and life was no longer flowers and fragrances. The world intruded again.

There was more news of the war, and even though it seems to be almost over, there are still the images of devastation and death to deal with - our young men and women go in as liberators (whether they wanted to or not), and already newly-free Iraqis want them gone.

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