Holy Humor Communion Liturgy

Post Author: Angela Wells and Emily Skoropinski

This communion setting was written following the pattern of the Great Thanksgiving used in United Methodist churches, but you are welcome to adapt it for your tradition.

Holy Humor is a tradition that dates back to the fifteenth century.  Typically celebrated the Sunday after Easter, the mass provided some levity after the heavy season of Lent.  Its underlying theological premise is that Easter is God’s joke on the devil.  The resurrection is God’s ultimate prank on the forces of evil! In those early years priests would tell funny stories and jokes and the congregation would play practical jokes. The popular tradition was officially outlawed by Pope Clement X in the seventeenth century.  We can’t have people having too much fun in church, now can we? 

A decorative image of Rev. Angela Wells, a white woman in her 30s, wearing her “hat of enthusiasm” (a regular hat with many colorful pipe cleaners sticking out of it) to encourage joy and laughter in worship.

Rev. Angela Wells wearing her “hat of enthusiasm” to encourage joy and laughter in worship.

Today the tradition lives on ecumenically as many mark Holy Humor with jokes, reversing the order of worship, singing familiar hymns to funny words or Easter words to Christmas carol tunes.  This year Holy Humor falls on the first Sunday of April, meaning that even those churches who only celebrate Holy Communion once a month are trying to figure out how to incorporate communion—a decidedly serious sacrament—into an otherwise joy-filled, light, and humorous service.  So, we wrote a Great Thanksgiving for the occasion. 

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, almighty God.

You created all things,

from the cleverness of the fox to the swiftness of a river,

from the queerness of the clownfish to the playfulness of a puppy,

from the puzzle-solving intelligence of the octopus to the noble height of a sequoia.

No one could look at a platypus and not see your sense of humor, Creative God!

 You created us too, each bearing your image but also unique in our own ways. You loved us with that very first breath of life, and even when we turn away, still, your love remains steadfast.

You have continued to guide and goad us, ushering us towards the path of justice and righteousness.  You worked through teachers and tricksters, through prophets and priests, through schemers and scholars, through fools and Pharaohs, all a part of this mischievous story of your tenacious love for us, your Creation.    

And so, with all your creatures—great and small—on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn: 

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, God of joy and creativity,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, and mischievous too!  For who would have guessed that the Creator of the universe would take on human flesh to come and live among us in Jesus the Christ. 

Jesus, master storyteller that he was, kept explaining again and again that the wisdom and justice of God are not what we humans keep imagining.  Jesus kept inviting folks to stretch their imaginations.  He modeled how to color outside of the lines of human institutions with God’s love.  And he painted vivid imagery of God’s kin-dom that turns power upside down and inside out.  Jesus used playful analogies, dramatic hyperbole, and even some comedic irony. 

Experiencing the fullness of human life—Jesus played!  Jesus laughed!  Jesus rejoiced!  Jesus probably even heard and told jokes! 

And Jesus kept on inviting adults who were determined to take things all-seriously all-the-time to be more like playful children.

And teaching the disciples, like children, Jesus loved a good object lesson.  So even on that last night of his human life, Jesus tried one last time to engage the disciples’ imaginations.

He took what he had at hand—a loaf of bread.  And he invited them to see not just a loaf of bread but to see, to imagine, to experience his body.  Jesus instructed them that when they ate this bread, they should re-member, re-tell, re-construct the meaning of his life and love and share that experience in community. 

And then he took the cup, gave thanks to God, and invited the disciples to keep imagining, to keep leaning into the mystery of our faith—that in this cup, we taste not only grapes but we taste salvation.  We taste forgiveness.  We taste a joy that outlasts and outlaughs even death itself. 

And so, we remember.

We remember Jesus.

We remember his last supper with the disciples.

We remember the mystery we encounter at this table—the mystery of God’s grace. 

We remember that God flipped the script yet again declaring that it is precisely in the breaking of the bread, that we are made whole. 

And so as we remember, we proclaim together the mystery of our faith:

Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,

and on these gifts of bread and the fruit of the vine: 

Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ so that we, nourished by this meal, can go out and be the Body of Christ in this world boldly proclaiming God’s joy.   

Let all God’s people joyfully say, Amen.

Rev. Angela Wells (she/her) is the pastor of Christ United Methodist Church at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center in central Maryland where she lives with her wife, two kids, and two cats. Rev. Emily Skorupinski is a United Methodist elder currently serving as pastor of two congregations near Annapolis, MD. She and her husband Brad have filled their home with three children, a grumpy old cat, comfy blankets, and more books than they'll ever be able to read. 

Image by: Rev. Angela Wells
Used with permission
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *