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:

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