“Laugh in the Face of the Devil”

As our days of social distancing continue, how and on what are we to focus our daily journeys?

God will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.

Job 8:21

risus paschalis: when dust laughs

spring has ambushed winter,
and the dust of the earth is, yet again,
transfigured into wind-dancing laughter.

laughing dust? not here
in this graveyard of abandoned joys
where dead-ended dreams whisper
like violated ghosts among tombs of those
too-soon returned to the earth.

you just smile and sink your spade
into the sun-warmed sod, costly
corruptions composted, turned, turned
again until soil recognizes soil.

then you wink, just once, and the
remembered dust, tantalized by the
tickle of a new feast’s first thin blade,

Bright Week

This week is known in some Christian traditions as “Bright Week.” The week is considered “bright” because faith communities around the world have awakened on Easter Monday to continue to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection light.

In the Bright Week tradition, each day of the week following Easter Sunday carries the adjective “bright.” Bright Monday holds the additional distinction of being referred to by some as Risus Paschalis—Easter Laugh.

Early orthodox communities began a tradition of gathering on the Monday following Resurrection Sunday to tell jokes as a way of marking Easter as the ultimate joke God played on Satan by defeating death with life. Some observe the Easter Laugh by including jokes or humorous anecdotes in their Easter Sunday sermons. Others emphasize laughter on the second Sunday of Easter, sometimes called Holy Humor or Hilarity Sunday.

Now What?

In the wee hours of this particular Bright Monday, I pondered what may seem a mundane or even inappropriate (to some) question: “Now what?”

We in Christian communities have traveled Lenten roads by staying in place. These unexpected and unfamiliar Lenten traveling conditions have prompted impressive (to me) creativity. Theologies have been energized and deepened by religious leaders’ efforts to weave Lenten texts and liturgies together within the context of a pandemic.

I have listened to more Easter sermons and prayers than ever before in my life. These live-streamed and podcasted and Zoomed worship offerings have sparked for me new spiritual insights and invited renewed commitments to Gospel justice- and peace-making.

Yes, even in the midst of a pandemic, the Lenten journey has brought us to an empty tomb.

Still Journeying in Place

But the coronavirus crisis continues. We are still staying in place. And I wonder—now what? I hope to write a more extended blog about this in coming days.

For now, I invite us to ponder together. As our days of social distancing continue and with them uncertainties about jobs, stresses about illness, pressures to work and care for children—how and on what are we to focus our daily journeys?

What I hope is that Easter’s surprise—Easter’s reversal of all that we thought we knew and understood about life and faith and God and humanity—will keep dancing around and within us and motivating our thoughts and actions toward God’s love and grace.

The coronavirus has thrown into stark relief the realities of human fragility—the fragility of our bodies and the fragility and brokenness of many of our political, economic, and health institutions.

Coinciding with this, Easter reminds us—life has defeated and will continue to defeat death. This is the Gospel promise, a cosmic, beyond-human understanding promise that infuses even the most mundane dimensions of human life with radical hope.

This radical Resurrection hope that at times seems so absurd given the realities we witness all around us—this radical hope ignites laughter, the Easter laugh.

Let’s Laugh in the Face of the Devil

Sheila Hunter wrote a song about radical resurrection hope—“Laugh in the Face of the Devil.”

Is there a place deep inside you
that’s closed up like a tomb?

No light can get through to that dark place
for the Healer there is no room.

There’s no rock too big for God to move,
no night to dark to see God’s light.

So let’s join together and with God’s help
let’s push all our might—

Sheila Hunter—“Laugh in the Face of the Devil”

Resurrection life has defeated and will continue to defeat death. The promise is cosmic but infuses even the most mundane dimensions of human life. Together, empowered by God’s Spirit, we can roll away even the heaviest stones.

One of the most certain things about these days is that uncertainties will arise. When they do—when everyday trials make us want to give up, or when the going is tough and we are tempted to think the joke of life is on us, perhaps we can remember the contagious, life-giving gift of the Easter laugh.

So—on this Monday that may or may not seem bright to us, perhaps we can listen for the Easter laugh. Perhaps we can even join in—just a little—with Sarah who all of those years ago announced:

God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.

Genesis 21:6

New Clothes for Easter

What garment will you wear on this Easter Sunday?

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb.

John 20

Christ is alive!

We arrive now at the tomb on Easter morning, 2020. What a strange and uncertain Holy Week this has been. Staying at home. Staying in place.

Are we also, in a sense, resurrecting in place?

If so, then a meme I saw yesterday seems particularly wisdom-sparking for me:

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.

Sonya Renee Taylor, Overgrow the System
Sheila Hunter, used by permission.

If we are resurrecting in place, then we have a chance to change our place, our spaces of life and work, our communities, our cities and towns. We have a chance to stitch a new Easter garment, one we sew together with Christ’s life-threads of resurrection justice, grace, redemption, and hope.

Christ is alive.

And Christ calls to us in the gardens where we are living and working, urging us not to go back to normal but instead to do something different, to think different thoughts, to be motivated by different attitudes, to be clothed in love. Christ calls us to be resurrected into new life.

Ode to Resurrection

while it is still dark

we squint to see the path
to see anything

how are we to
believe in
hope for
crocus hallelujahs
when winter’s nomads
run wild through springtime’s

while it is still dark

it is no easy matter to see–
believe in
finding that not-yet-discovered
easter egg burrowed
deep in winter’s nest of
unremembered leaves

and yet–

“our time is not what defines the hour”

weary feet travel treacherous roads
tear-tired eyes peer into cavernous not-knowing
fearing death–
yearning for
irreverent light

while it is still dark

autumn’s summer remembrances
cultivate seeds in wintry graves
while all creation groans
toward spring

“our time is not what defines the hour”


while it is still dark

we keep on rising up
in the half-light
get dressed for the day’s work
and make our way
as best we can
hoping for
believing in
easter signs in
wilderness places