First Presbyterian Church
Holy Humor Sunday
April 15, 2012
This was our third annual Holy Humor worship, and I think our best ever. The week before Palm Sunday, we handed out postcards for our folks to invite their friends and neighbors for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Easter and Holy Humor Sunday. We sent a press release (see it at the end of this post) to the local paper, and it ran on Saturday the 14th.
We also put the word out on Facebook.
We used our regular order of worship, but the bulletin had rebus pictures instead of words (for example a picture of a phone, the numeral 2, and a picture of a battleship – “Call to Worship” Get it?!) The chancel was strewn with balloons, red Solo cups, party hats, streamers and confetti. There was confetti up and down the aisles, and smiley face helium balloons where the flowers normally are. There were “joke breaks” and the jokes are included here, plus a few brave members shared their own jokes.
I’ve included below the entire order of worship, with links to sources and notes in italics to describe the “action,” but like most events, you just hadda be there!
The pastor and choir entered wearing robes – bathrobes!—and processed (actually, danced) down the aisle to “Shining Star”
Welcome and Announcements
*Call to Worship Psalm 100, The Message
Leader: On your feet now - applaud God!
People: Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.
Leader: Know this: God is God. He made us; we didn't make him.
People: We're his people, his well-tended sheep.
Leader: Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Make yourselves at home, talking praise. People: We applaud, we laugh, we thank you. God!
All: Let us worship God with joy!
Sister Mary Ann, who worked for a home health agency, was out making her rounds visiting homebound patients when she ran out of gas. As luck would have it, an gasoline station was just a block away.
She walked to the station to borrow a gas can and buy some gas. The attendant told her that the only gas can he owned had been loaned out, but she could wait until it was returned. Since Sister Mary Ann was on the way to see a patient, she decided not to wait and walked back to her car.
She looked for something in her car that she could fill with gas and spotted the bedpan she was taking to the patient. Always resourceful, Sister Mary Ann carried the bedpan to the station, filled it with gasoline, and carried the full bedpan back to her car.
As she was pouring the gas into her tank, two Presbyterians watched from across the street. One of them turned to the other and said, "If it starts, I'm turning Catholic."
Did you hear about the Pentecostal preacher that married the Amish woman?
He drove her buggy!
A woman went out to a nearby farm to get two big buckets of manure for her garden. When she got home, her little boy asked her: “What’s that for?”
“It’s for the strawberries,” she answered.
The little boy stared at the manure for a moment, then asked, “Can I have mine with Kool Whip instead?”
*Opening Song This Is The Day #236 Gray
CHRISTINA: I have a confession to make. Last week I was out for a few drinks with some friends. Knowing full well I was probably over the limit, I did something I've never done before: I took a bus home. I arrived home safely and without incident, which was amazing, -- but now there’s this bus in my driveway, and I’m not sure where I got it.
Prayer of Confession
God of joy, we know that you have blessed us richly, yet so often, we are down in the dumps over silly little disappointments. You have given us Jesus Christ, and raised him from the dead, and promised us eternal life. But we act like we don’t know it! Forgive us, God! Keep us mindful that you always have the last laugh, and that your promise is for true joy in every circumstance, and life forever.
Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Leader: Christ is raised from the dead! Love wins!
Leader: Christ lives and reigns for us!
ALL: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
*Sharing the Peace of Christ (the rebus for this one was the following pictures: Cher, a ring, and two pods of peas!
God’s Word is Proclaimed
You know, today is April 15. We know it’s hard sometimes, being a parent.
Just remember, "There is no child so bad that he/she can't be used as an income tax deduction."
Choir Anthem “Coffee, Coffee, Coffee” (to the tune of Holy, Holy, Holy)
See lyrics at http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/180/ode_to_coffee.html
Scripture Reading The Calamitous Daughter
A short skit starring Cindy Cassens and Nan Pashon, telling the story of two daughters, Faithful and Calamity, and how Calamity came home.
The Prodigal Son Luke 15: 11-24, (The Message)
Then Jesus said, "There was once a man who had two sons.
The younger said to his father, 'Father, I want right now what's coming to me.'
It wasn't long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. That brought him to his senses.
He said, 'All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I'm going back to my father. I'll say to him, Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.'
He got right up and went home to his father. When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: 'Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.'
But the father wasn't listening. He was calling to the servants, 'Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We're going to feast! We're going to have a wonderful time! My son is here - given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!'
And they began to have a wonderful time.
CHRISTINA Now, I promised the sermon would be short -
TIM (interrupting) Can’t be as short as you. You're so short, you need a ladder to get up to the BOTTOM bunk
CHRISTINA Oh, come on now, I’m not that short.
TIM You're so short, you can tread water in a kiddie pool
CHRISTINA C’mon Tim, you’re really bugging me,
TIM You're so short, when you tell people "I'm not happy," they ask you, “Then which dwarf are you?”
CHRISTINA I'm not happy! I’m grumpy!
TIM I’d say you’re dopey! Let’s have the sermon - -and keep it short!
The chancel looks like a party just ended. It is strewn with party horns, party hats, cans, bottles, red Solo cup, etc. I have my hair tied up in a scarf (which was hanging around my neck like a stole) and am holding a broom and bucket, picking trash up as I talk.
Well, yes indeed, they sure did have a wonderful time!
Can’t you tell? Here’s how it is, my friends: My boss is a loon.
No, I’m not kidding. Look at this place! When was the last time you ever saw so many red Solo cups on the floor? Don’t answer that!
Look at this! (put on party hat, collect trash, sweep, lean on broom)
I’m serious, the man should be in the loony bin. That party last night, it went on until 4 AM
That’s why I’m still here, cleaning up, while they sleep it off.
Oh, good grief! (pick up and blow party horn, toss into bag)
I’m sure you heard the story – it’s all over town. He has these two sons, one good as gold, the other, well, … did you hear what he did, the people he was hanging out with?
did you see the tattoos? did you smell him when he came past? PHEW!
And of course he squandered all that money, his health, his reputation
And then he comes dragging back here, broke and smelly.
So what does the boss do?
I’ll tell you what I’d have done. I’d have said, (turning broom upside down and talking to it) “Now look here, you little snot, don’t think you are going to take advantage of me again. You come slinking back here, your tail between your legs, all bedraggled and sniveling, don’t you think you have some apologies to make?
After you’ve demonstrated to me exactly how sorry you are – and you ARE a sorry one, that’s for sure, then we’ll work out a repayment plan, and you can start working off your debt. Once you’ve shown me some of the respect and gratitude that I’m due, then we’ll talk about what’s next. Meanwhile, here’s an old blanket, and you know where the barn is.”
Isn’t that what ANY sane parent would do? Yes, I thought so.
But is that what my boss did? Is that what he does? NOooooooooo!
What does he do?
He goes and gets that boy a new suit of clothes, tailor-made, good fabric, and new shoes, not just flip-flops or something, custom-made, and a gold ring, because that’s what every numbskull kid needs when he comes dragging back after whooping it up and partying
until he ends up in a pigpen, that’s what he needs, a gold ring!
And you’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? Take him back, let him in, clean him up, new clothes, new shoes, new jewelry, that’s enough, isn’t it? NO! That’s not enough! You know what the Boss did THEN? Yah! He throws a party.
He threw the little jerk a party! And I don’t mean some dignified little family dinner,
with a glass of sherry and a prim little fruit tart. Nooooo! He throws a blowout that goes on all night, with barbecue, and a live band, and dancing. and plenty of red Solo cups.
And you should have seen the guest list. Most people would invite the best people, or the people who could do them some good, you know, networking? or at least some respectable people who would leave at a decent hour, and offer to clean up a little bit. But not my boss – NO, NOT MY BOSS! He invites everybody he has ever met, even people who you wouldn’t think would make the cut, people who just come for the party and the free food –….
not that I’m saying that’s why you’re here,…but….. I’m just sayin’…
(embarrassed, foot in mouth moment)
… well, I’m sure you are all fine, deserving people, and you’re the Boss’s guests, so…
Then he tells me, he tells me…. I can hardly say it, it is almost embarrassing…
he tells me that I’m supposed to tell you somethin’…. And I want to say, this is not me talkin’ this is the boss, because if it were up to me, well, you don’t want to know what it would be like, if it were up to me, but ANYWAY, the Boss said to tell you that the party needs to keep going on.
He’ll be the host here, every week, and you know how it goes, you’ve been here celebrating,
so you’re supposed to keep on.
No kidding, that’s what he said.
He said that now that you’ve been welcomed in,like that good-for-nothing kid,
he said you would know how to extend that welcome to everyone else.
And you’d know how to keep the party going.
He wants you to celebrate.
And whenever you get a chance, bring somebody else to the party. The Boss also said, not only that, you’re supposed to be glad and full of joy when you come into his house. He said you can look it up -- it’s in the Psalms, says to come in here singing and shouting,
dancing and ready to celebrate!
I told him you were Presbyterians….
He said that didn’t matter, you can learn.
And when somebody shows up for the party, you’re supposed to welcome them like he did that kid of his, like they’re the prodigal son come home, like they were dead and came back to life, like they were your own child, or your best friend, or your neighbor.
The Boss said to tell you, “Everything I have is yours!”
Sing! Dance! CELEBRATE!
Responding to God’s Word
*Song I’ve Got the Joy, Joy Joy
*Statement of Belief (adapted from the Joyful Noiseletter)
Leader: We believe with the Bible
People: That there is a time to weep and a time to laugh
Leader: We believe with Chrysostom
People: That laughter has been implanted in our souls
Leader: We believe with Aquinas
People: That there is a time for playful deeds and jokes
Leader: We believe with Luther
People: That you have as much laughter as you have faith
Leader: We believe with John Calvin
People: That we are nowhere forbidden to laugh
Leader: We believe with Chesterton
People: That a good joke is the closest thing we have to divine revelation
Leader: We believe with Charles Schulz
People: That humor is proof that everything is going to be alright with God nevertheless!
A little boy wanted $100 badly and prayed to God for two weeks but nothing happened. Then he decided to write a letter to God asking for the $100. When the US Postal Service found the letter addressed "GOD USA", they decided to send it to the President.
The President was so amused that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a $5.00 bill. The President thought this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy.
The little boy was delighted with the $5.00 and sat down to write a thank you note to God, which read:
Dear God, Thank you very much for sending the money, however, I noticed that for some reason you had to send it through Washington D.C. and, wouldn’t you know, those guys deducted $95.00 in taxes.
A man was circling the block searching for a parking spot. Finally, after the third time around, he prays, “God, if you help me find a parking spot, I will go to church every Sunday and tithe ten percent of my income.” Immediately, a spot opens up, and the man prays, “Never mind, I found one.”
A man is crawling through the Sahara desert when he is approached by another man riding on a camel. As the rider approaches, the crawling man whispers through his parched lips, "Water ... please ... can you give ... water ..."
"I'm sorry," replies the man on the camel, "I don't have any water with me. But I'd be delighted to sell you a necktie."
"Necktie?" whispers the man. "I need water!"
"They're only four dollars apiece."
"I need water."
"Okay, okay, two for seven dollars."
"Please! I need water!" the man exclaims.
"I don't have any water, all I have are ties," replies the salesman, as he heads off into the distance.
By now the man has lost all track of time, crawling through the desert seemingly for days. Finally, nearly dead, with clothes tattered and sunburned, he sees a a pool, and trees. and hears a bubbling fountain! Is it a mirage? No, an oasis, with a restaurant! Summoning his last bit of strength, he crawls up the steps. "Water ... can I get ... water," the dying man pleads. "I'm sorry, sir,” replies the head waiter. “Our dress code requires a tie"
Let us worship God with our ties and offerings!
Offering: the offering plates were replaced with baskets, which had neckties tied around them and in them. The offertory was a wonderful piece about following Jesus, with a refrain of “I love him, I love him, I love him, and where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow” – perfect!
*Response Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu
*Prayer of Dedication
Thank you God, for the joy you have given us which bubbles over into laughter and fun! Thank you for renewing our joy. We pray that you will use these, our gifts, to bring joy to all the world. We pray in the name of the risen Lord, Amen.
Sharing of Joys and Concerns
Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
God’s People are Sent
When Osama bin Laden died, George Washington met him at the Pearly Gates, slapped him across the face and yelled, “How dare you try to destroy the nation I helped conceive?”
Patrick Henry showed up, punched him in the nose and shouted “You tried to end our liberties, but you failed!”
James Madison followed with a kick, saying “This is why government must provide for the common defense.
Thomas Jefferson was next, snarling, “Evil men like you are why we needed the Declaration of Independence!
Then James Monroe and 66 other early Americans unleashed their anger. An angel appeared, and Osama said, “This is not what I was promised!”
The angel said, “Yes it is – I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you in heaven.”
What did Jesus tell the Chicago Cubs? ..... Don't do anything until I get back.
A young woman came home from a date rather sad. She told her mother, “Anthony proposed to me tonight.” “Why so sad?” her mother asked. “Oh, momma, he is an atheist! He doesn’t believe in heaven. He doesn’t even believe there’s a hell!” Her mother replied, “Marry him. Between the two of us, we’ll show him just how wrong he is!”
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Trading My Sorrows
Leader: And let all God’s people say…
People: Alleluia! Amen!
Holy Humor Sunday
April 15, 9:30 AM
First Presbyterian Church
A laughing Jesus and a praising prairie dog? Not the images you expect to see in church on Sunday morning. Unless it is “Holy Humor Sunday!”
In the early days of the Christian church, congregations gathered on the Sunday after Easter to celebrate with picnics, parties and fun. This custom is for Christians to playfully acknowledge that at Easter, God had the last laugh on death, because Jesus was raised from the tomb. According to joyfulnoiseletter.com, more and more churches are celebrating this joyful Sunday, also known as “Bright Sunday.” For many churches, this practice is also a way to relax after the busy season of Lent, and the multiple services held for Holy Week and Easter.
At First Presbyterian Church in Sterling, Holy Humor Sunday is also a time for musicians, choir, and worship leaders to let down their hair and “yuk it up.” Funny songs, jokes and gags are shared, and everyone is encouraged to participate. Last year, the pastor doubled over in laughter when she found a rubber duck floating in the baptismal font!
Everyone is invited to join the fun at First Presbyterian Church of Sterling, 410 2nd Avenue, on April 15 at 9:30 AM. Come for the jokes and hilarity, stay for the coffee and fellowship after the service. We are looking forward to another great Holy Humor Sunday. Who knew you could have so much fun in church?!