What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
- John 1:4
I heard about a youth group who performed the nativity scene annually. One particular year, Joseph, Mary and all the other characters were in place to perform their parts with all due seriousness.
When it came time for the shepherds to enter - dressed in flannel bathrobes and toweled turbans - they proceeded to the altar steps where Mary and Joseph were peering serenely down into the straw, which contained a single naked light bulb playing the part of the glowing newborn Jesus.
As one of the shepherds approached, he whispered to Joseph for all the cast to hear, "Well, Joe, when you gonna pass out cigars?"
No one was able to hold back the laughter. The angel standing on the chair behind the manger fell over, pulling several props down with her. Even after she hit the floor, she kept rolling with laughter. The only thing that didn't go to pieces was that light bulb in the manger. It just lay in the hay, burning brightly.
Just like Jesus. Even when things seem to be going to pieces, he still burns brightly, a beacon of hope in hectic world.
Perhaps you have your own childhood story to tell of Bethlehem, bathrobes and bedsheet-clad angels. Light and life, but maybe a little laughter, too. For several years as a kid, I had a part in a drive-by nativity. I played shepherds and angels, but never Mary, as I was prone in those days to uncontrollable fits of giggling. Something always got me, and by the time the shepherds were coming in from their fields, the angel perched on top of the barn was shaking with laughter.
Maybe that's not such a bad thing. After all, Jesus came to bring light, joy, love and peace! In a season stuffed with parties, parking lots, decorations and to-do lists, it might be all too easy to lose sight of that fact.
But it is true. Jesus said so himself. He said that He came that His joy might be in us, that our joy might be full. For those of us who believe in the Christmas story, life ought to radiate that quality.
Christ came to usher in a new kind of human, one who rejoices at great news, values life and laughs a lot from a reservoir of gratitude because God has given them hope through Christ. If we're going to be true to the Spirit birthed on that first Christmas day, then maybe it is OK to celebrate with a little more laughter. With joy.
I hope you will bring that kind of spirit with you tonight as we join as a community at the Columbia County Amphitheater for a joyful time of worship. We'll gather at 6:30 p.m. to sing the great carols celebrating the birth of Christ. We'll be reminded of the incomparable gift that comes through Jesus Christ.
And afterward, those who are willing will go out and spread a little joy. We'll equip teams of carolers with maps and music so they can sing at the homes of those in our community who don't get out much, and who could use some good ol' Christmas spirit.
I trust it will be a delightful time of love and joy, peace and good will - everything Jesus stands for.
I hope you'll come ready to laugh for the sheer joy of it, to celebrate the One who gives light and life.
(Carolyn Moore is pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church, which along with the Vineyard Church of Augusta is sponsoring the Candlelight Christmas at the amphitheater.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.