Sunday, April 11, 2010

Be of Good Cheer: Churches Resurrect an Old Easter Custom- "Bright Sunday"

"Messi-antics" Abound in Churches All Over the Nation
on Bright Sunday- the Sunday After Easter

Many American churches are resurrecting an old Easter custom begun by the Greeks in the early centuries of Christianity-"Holy Humor Sunday" celebrations of Jesus' resurrection on the Sunday after Easter.

For centuries in Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant countries, the week following Easter Sunday, including "Bright Sunday" (the Sunday after Easter), was observed by the faithful as "days of joy and laughter" with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus' resurrection.

Churchgoers and pastors played practical jokes on each other, drenched each other with water, told jokes, sang, and danced.

The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. "Risus paschalis - the Easter laugh," the early theologians called it.

In 1988 the Fellowship of Merry Christians began encouraging churches and prayer groups to resurrect Bright Sunday celebrations and call it "Holy Humor Sunday," with the theme: "Jesus is the LIFE of the party."

Many churches from different traditions responded enthusiastically. Holy Humor Sunday services are bringing back large crowds to churches on a Sunday when church attendance typically drops dramatically.

If you Google “Holy Humor Sunday” on the Internet, you’ll be amazed at how widespread Holy Humor Sunday celebrations on the Sunday after Easter have become among churches of all traditions. It’s clearly a movement of the Holy Spirit to shore up belief in the resurrection of Jesus.

Both the religious and secular press are now reporting on this phenomenon.

Here are some more lyrics to "Easter carols," composed by JN consulting editor Paul Lintern, a Lutheran pastor, based on the music of Christmas carols. ©2004 by Paul Lintern.

Deck the Halls

Deck the halls with Easter lilies,
Dance a jig and sing the sillies,
At the devil, mean, old bloke,
On whom God has played a joke,

Devil thought he'd won the battle,
Pranced around high in the saddle,
Did not know God's special plan,
To resurrect the Son of Man,

Merry Christians rejoice and sing,
Now's the triumph of our King,
Lord of Life is ris'n this day,
Let the world rejoice and say,

Songs of joy to Christ our head,
Lives again who once was dead,
Life was purchased by his loss,
Died our death upon the cross,

Joy to the World

Joy to the World, the Lord's alive,
Awake, rejoice and sing!
It's just as He had said,
He's risen from the dead.
Salvation now He brings,
Salvation now He brings,
Salvation, salvation now He brings.
Joy to the World, the empty tomb,
Proclaims a victory.
Of light compelling,
A great dispelling
Of darkness in the world,
Of darkness in the world,
Of darkness, of darkness in the world.
Joy to the World,
Our Savior reigns,
Let Heaven and earth proclaim
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

It Came upon a Sunrise Bright
(Tune: "It Came upon a Midnight Clear")

It came upon a sunrise bright,
that glorious promise anew,
That Jesus, though he was crucified,
now lives for me and for you.
Peace on earth, goodwill to all,
from Heaven rejoicing on high,
The world with joyful dancing
shares the news that He is alive.
The women with their spices came,
the body to anoint,
They found the tomb was empty
and they heard an angel appoint.
The time, the place, the reason why,
you'll find your Jesus on high,
And then in joy the woman shared
the news that He is alive.

Beautiful Day
(Tune: "Silent Night")

Beautiful Day, Glorious Day
All is new, all's okay!
'Round the tomb
There is dancing and song,
See inside that the body is gone.
Christ, the Savior's alive,
Christ, the Savior's alive.
Beautiful Day, Glorious Day,
Soldiers quake and run away,
The stone is cleared from heaven above,
Heavenly host says "Hallelujah,"
Jesus, Lord, at new birth,
Jesus, Lord, at new birth.
Beautiful Day, Glorious Day,
Sing and shout, tell and say,
Radiant beams from this sinner's face,
Show because of amazing grace,
Christ, the Savior's alive,
Christ, the Savior's alive.

Go tell it on the Mountain

Go tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain
that Jesus is alive.
While soldiers watched the gravesite
That quiet Sunday dawn
There came a big commotion
and then the storm was gone.
The women found no body
their spices to anoint,
Instead they found an angel,
God's message to appoint.
Go from where He isn't
to where He said He'd be.
An Eastertime reunion,
the hills of Galilee.

(Paul Lintern is a humorist and motivational speaker available for special events in churches and schools. He may be contacted at Isaac's World, P.O. Box 2801, Mansfield, OH 44906, or at [419] 524-7923.)

A very old Easter sermon: (The following are excerpts from the famous Easter sermon of St. John Chrysostom [347-407 A.D.], still read today as part of the Easter midnight service in Eastern Orthodox Church liturgies.)

"If anyone is devout and loves God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If anyone is a wise servant, let him rejoice and enter into the joy of his Lord.
He gives rest to him who comes at the 11th hour, even as to him who has worked from the first hour. And He shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first.
Let all then enter into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, keep the feast. You sober and you heedless, celebrate the day.
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast… Let all receive the riches of loving-kindness.
Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior's death has set us free.
O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of the dead. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen."


Here's an awesome video to give you a visual:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Discipline of Darkness

At times, God puts us through the
discipline of darkness
to teach us to heed Him.

Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and
we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him…

Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances,
or in your life with God?

When you are in the dark,
listen, and God will give you
a very precious message for someone
when you get in the light.

~Oswald Chambers,
My Utmost for His Highest, reading for February 14

Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 63:7

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lent, Day 40: WAIT

Black Saturday- The Silence of the Tomb

Today is the day we call “Holy Saturday,” or more appropriately “Black Saturday.” Today, after the pain and suffering of Good Friday, everything, more than ever, is silent as we WAIT for God. On Black Saturday, the Lord Jesus lies dead in His tomb, a shroud over Him. Take a moment to think about that and what it means. His tomb is wrapped in stony silence- the silence of death. As he had predicted, his frightened disciples are scattered and in hiding.

If we take time to recall, we are reminded that silence is a method God uses to speak to us. Silence such as this is not at all lack of communication; it refers not so much to the absence of sound and activity, but to a deeper awareness of things. The essence of the silence of Holy Saturday provides us with an understanding of the deep, essentialness of God in our lives. For, when we taste even the slightest withdrawal of Him from our presence, it is then that we understand fully that it is only in Him that we live and move and breathe.

In Hebrew the word ‘Shema’ means ‘listen to this’ or ‘hear this.’ In fact, a more accurate translation of the word ‘Shema’implies that you listen or hear and then act upon it. The title comes from Deut 6:3 which says, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God! The LORD is One!”

In the quiet of Holy Saturday, God bids you to take action and listen for His voice...


Today, on Black Saturday, take some time in thinking about your life for a while. Perhaps recently, there is an area or aspect in your life where you are having difficulty finding God: it may be in prayer, a relationship, at work, at home, or some personal issues you may be facing. In other words, there may be an “empty tomb” in your life...

Maybe God is inviting you this Holy Week to "roll away the stone" and to look for Him in the very emptiness and silence of that place.

If this is what you are feeling, God may be inviting you to Embrace his silence, which is the Silence of the Empty tomb…the Silence of His Hidden Presence in your life.

In order to sense God’s presence in the ordinary and to recognize his action, even in our suffering and wounds, we need the silence of the empty tomb.

This Holy Saturday, may you find a sense of peace in the quiet anticipation of this day. May the commemoration of this day remind you that, like Jesus' tomb, even in the stillness and silence and in the areas of your life that seem dead and irredeemable, God is present and actively working out His plan of redemption and reconciliation.

Friday, April 2, 2010


On Good Friday, as Jesus was hanging upon the cross, the mockers milling around at the base of the cross yelled up at him, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross and we will believe you.”

Where have we heard these words before? Who was speaking through those who mocked Jesus on Good Friday? The words of those who were mocking Jesus on Good Friday sound eerily similar to the words that Satan used in the desert ("If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down...").

No doubt, Satan and his banished band laughed at the the foot of the cross. Their glee can be heard, even now 2000+ years later through the voices of the people who they animated with their vitriole.

The mocking must have been unbearable to hear, both for Our Lord and for the small band of onlookers that were His friends and family. They did not have the advantage that we have- the advantage of hindsight.

Neither those who were spouting vitriole, nor Jesus' faithful handful, knew how the story was going to unfold...But Jesus knew...

Darkness enveloped the world that day. I do not believe we can fully grasp the despair that must have been felt...

Perhaps a Still Small Voice spoke to the hearts of those faithful onlookers in order to steel their faith and said:

It’s Friday- But Sunday’s Coming!

Perhaps they began to understand at a core level Jesus' teaching about the "Sign of Jonah"...We do not know for sure.

On this Good Friday, let us remember the mocking that Jesus bore...
Let it be a reminder to us when we are assaulted and mocked by our Enemy and his minions... although we may not know the outcome, Jesus knows...
Let us know, as truly as we can know any truth...
Even on Our Darkest Day- We Know The Light!

Here is a Campolo Classic for you today…

Lift Up Your Heads, Rejoice!

May Your Day Be Filled With The AWE of It All!

For God DID NOT send His Son into
the world to condemn the world,
but that the world, through Him,
might be saved.
~John 3:17

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lent, Day 38: LOVE

Maundy Thursday

Blessed Maundy Thursday! The word "maundy" comes from Middle English and French and means "command". And so today, on the day where Jesus had his Last Supper and commanded his followers to always remember him, may we reflect on the idea that he bore the darkness of the cross so that we could step out into the light and be the adopted Children of Light.

Let us use this day to reflect on the words of the Apostle John:

John 13:34-35 (Contemporary English Version)
But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.

In these verses he expounded upon Jesus’ command, and described what it means to be His disciples.

May you love as you are loved...
may others know you are a disciple by your love...