By Garrett Vickery
A few years ago at a Christmas Party, my friend Kevin and I were standing near the back of a living room packed with friends with cups of wassail in hand. He and I were chatting and
enjoying being at the back of the room watching as the packed house was caroling away. As the pianist played the whole room sang along to Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Kevin backed up to let someone pass from the living room and through the kitchen door to his left. When suddenly, he sense that his arm was getting unusually warm. When he looked he saw that he had unknowingly backed into a lit candle on the table behind him. His panicked yelps were drowned out by the chorus of carolers.
We quickly put out the “fire.” Luckily, his shirt was the only casualty. The candle burned a nickel-sized hole in his sleeve. But, we still laugh about him unexpectedly ‘setting himself on fire’ even now. Frederick Buechner once wrote, “The tragic is the inevitable. The comic is the unforeseeable.” And there’s plenty of unforeseeable in scripture. Like the King of Kings born in a barn. Or God raising an itinerant preacher from the dead.
The good news is news of great joy. And when we are joyful sometimes we just have to laugh. Don’t you wonder if the shepherds after receiving the good tidings of great joy from the angels laughed to themselves out of pure astonishment? This news is so good it deserves a deep belly laugh that shakes up our insides and changes our outlook.
Experts say toddlers need to laugh or cry before they can peacefully go to bed. They have to unpack their “emotional suitcase.” Couldn’t we all use the same unpacking?
May you lose yourself in joy this season. So much so that joy erupts from you in uncontainable laughter. Unforeseeable moments await this next year. Laugh now and save some for later. And may joy lead you this season to experience the warmth of God’s presence. Or as we say on Sunday, May God take your hearts (and not your shirt-sleeves!) and set them on fire.