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A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom as the children drew pictures. The teacher would occasionally walk around and see each child’s artwork. As she approached one little girl who was working especially hard, she asked what the drawing was.

The little girl told her: “I’m drawing God!”

“But sweety,” the teacher replied, “no one actually knows what God looks like.”

Automatically, the little girl continued drawing and said: “well, they sure will when I get done!” 

Humor.  This Sunday is humor Sunday beloved.  I’ve intentionally chose a Sunday in the Easter Season for us to celebrate laughter together.    The God that the little girl drew in her picture is a prankster.  A joker.  Easter is, after all, a joke beloved.  Its God’s joke on death violence and destruction.  Hell took a body and encountered God.  Hell was overcome by what it could not see.  

Holy Humor or Holy Fools Sunday is a medieval tradition that has been rekindled.  It was celebrated in the 15th Century throughout Europe.  Priests would deliberately include amusing stories and jokes in their sermons in an attempt to make the faithful laugh.  After the service, people would gather together to play practical jokes on one another and tell funny stories.  This was a one way that the faithful celebrated the Paschal Mystery.  

I love that churchy term --Paschal Mystery. How we live, die and rise with Christ in our lives is central to our Easter faith.   Rather than turning  to what comes after this life, I want to turn to the everyday deaths and losses we experience beloved—how we know resurrection in the here and now.   We know the joy of resurrection now in our lives through laughter.  Healthy laughter is a sign of resurrection and life in us.   Healthy humor is the foundation for reconciliation in our lives; it heals us.   

One of the ways that I know this is from a hero of mine, marriage therapist and professor John Gottman.   During the course of his research Dr. Gottman was able to divide couples into two categories: masters and disasters.

Gottman discovered through years and years of observing, working and researching couples that one of the most effective tools for reconciliation and repair is well placed well timed humor. 
Humor is a powerful repair technique. It can lower the tension level of an argument, destroy the division, and remind us of our common humanity. An artfully deployed  joke can shift the focus away from a fixed position.  

Humor has the potential to create emotional repair.  

That’s resurrection and that is life on this side of the grave.  There are several resurrection practices.  Laughter is one of those.   

There are, as you probably know different kinds of humor and laughter that we can deploy.  

There is humor and laughter that breaks us apart and is made at the expense of others.  Divisive humor or laughing at the expense of others is something we witness at the cross as Jesus is taunted and people laugh at him.  

That is not the humor we need. There are way too many examples of this kind of humor in our world and in the land of stand up comedians.  This is not true or good laughter.   

Humor that brings us together, that reminds us of our common humanity and humor around our faith are signs of bodily resurrection that we experience.    Easter is a joke beloved.  And like all good jokes, it destroyed division and death and brought life to us for us and in us.  John Cleese one of my favorite comedians once wrote, A wonderful thing about true laughter is that it just destroys any kind of system of dividing people.  

That’s what God did—God destroyed a system of dividing us from God from life and truly living.   Easter is God’s best joke.   The angels at the tomb were telling knock knock jokes.  Knock Knock whose there?   He’s not here!  He’s risen!  

Beloved our imagination is sorely lacking when it comes to the idea of reconciliation and resurrection.   Don’t believe me?  When’s the last time you saw a really good movie or read a work of fiction on reconciliation or forgiveness?  Those movies aren’t made.  Those books aren’t written.  

The way we start to have an imagination and appetite for resurrection is by laughing more.   Laughing often.   Beloved if we can’t laugh about our faith then we really don’t believe it.   If we don’t laugh about our lives then we aren’t really living.   J.K. Chesterton, one of my favorite theologians once wrote, “ A good joke is the closest thing we have to divine revelation.” 

We celebrate laughter today because it is one of the primary ways that we know resurrection in our lives.     There is this wonderful story about Desmond Tutu.  He was not sure that he was up to the task of leading the Truth and Reconciliation work in South Africa.  I laugh too easily he said, I cry too easily.    But he was told, don’t you see, Desmond, your laughter and tears are precisely what we need.  Good laughter is a sign of the resurrection just as surely as our tears are beloved.   

One of my go to points at funerals is to remind people that tears are a sign of the resurrection and the life.   Again Desmond Tutu’s wisdom: tears are very close to laughter.  I hope beloved you have had the wonderful experience of laughing until you cry.  That is resurrection.  That is life that lives beyond death.  

I tell you all this and celebrate laughter today because so often our  world and religion are so toxically serious.   Don’t trust the toxicity of ultra-seriousness.  It is the work of the devil and ultimately divides us.    Never trust a theologian or a priest without a sense of humor.  

Similarly church, we can’t be church without the noisy rambunctiousness of children in our church.  They are a reminder to us of the fullest understanding of the body of Christ and if we can’t embrace them and their laughter and energy we are not living into the fullest measure of the resurrection in the body of Christ and we will surely die.    

 I want to invite beloved to laugh wildly  this Easter.   What if we celebrated and observed the 50 days of Easter by promising to have a good belly laugh every single day?   I wonder how our imaginations for the resurrection would grow.  

So the only way to wrap up a sermon on Holy Humor Sunday is of course by telling a joke:  

The rabbi and her brilliant pupil are camping out one night in a big open field they pitch their tent. 

They say their evening prayers together and turn in the for night.  

IN the middle of the night, the Rabbi wakes her pupil and says, Look up at the sky and tell me what you see. 

Rabbi, the student says,  I see millions and millions of stars: the vast constellations of our galaxy.  

And from this, what do you deduce my student?    The student ponders this for a moment thinking carefully and choosing her words.  

“Well, astronomically, this view conveys the vastness of the heavens. Chronometrically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of God’s universe. 

What does it tell you, Rabbi? 

The rabbi replies,   It tells me, my student that 
Someone has stolen our tent. 

May the resurrection live in you and may you be filled with holy laughter today and each day of Easter.  Amen.