Christmas is coming! (You may need to pause, breathe, and repeat.)
Christmas in our world today is more likely to conjure up images of crowded parking lots, obligatory office parties, and low grade anxiety over shopping for the perfect gift than peaceful scenes out of a Hallmark Christmas card. Simplicity is not the word typically used to describe the Christmas season in a typical North American home!
When I first arrived to Central Africa, I remember a Brazilian missionary telling me: “If you don’t know how to laugh here, you’ll end up crying.” Being surrounded by the daily realities of malaria, typhoid, and oppressive poverty can take a toll on you, unless you are buoyed by a sense of holy laughter. Believe it or not, the same advice may now hold true of our navigation of the Christmas season! You may need to partake in holy laughter to truly enjoy the meaning of Christmas.
The great preacher at Westminster Chapel of London, Martin Lloyd-Jones, once wrote:
“When the King of Kings and Lord of Lords came into this world, he came into a stable. If you do not feel a sense of holy laughter within you, I do not see that you have a right to think that you are a Christian.”
The craziness of our Christmas season is actually topped by the incredulity of the manger! A manger?!? Really? To an unwed teenage bride? (Since when was this a good idea?) Smelly shepherds coming in from the field? (Please, guys, don’t touch the baby – really, think of the germs!!)
Yet, what does holy laughter really mean? Holy laughter, in my mind, means rejoicing in the subversive simplicity of God’s redemption in our world which breaks human paradigms to the point that it’s comical. Go on and chuckle at the thought of God’s rescue mission – a manger! – it just might be good for your soul.
Grateful to be with you this Christmas season,
Pastor Jason Carter