How about some deep belly laughing this Christmas?

Yesterday at the mall I saw a little boy about 4 or 5 years-old with curly blonde hair waiting in line to talk with Santa.  Several times Santa momentarily diverted his attention from a little 2-year-old on his lap. He looked over and waved to the little boy. That did it.  The little boy started bouncing spontaneously. Then Santa addressed the little boy in line and said, “I’m looking forward to shaking your hand young man. Just wait a minute. “

You talk about a wildly giggling little boy. This made everyone else laugh,too. As far as this little boy knew, or cared, there were two people in the entire world — Santa and him. The boy was bouncing as he giggled.  It was a sight to behold.  You could not help but laugh as you felt this little boy’s excitement.

That kind of laughing makes me think of the belly laugh of old Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  After Scrooge realized his life had been spared by the ghost-of-Christmas-yet-come, he burst out in uproarious laughter. Waking up from this visitation and seeing that he was still alive, Scrooge suddenly is filled with unbelievable joy.

Scrooge is just beside himself with happiness!  “I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath.  … “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A Merry Christmas to everybody!  A happy New Year to all the world.  Hallo there!  Whoop!  Hallo!”

[Then the narrator adds…]

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh.  The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs!

Surely part of keeping Christmas well is by laughing … maybe even like Scrooge and like the little blonde-haired boy who was wildly giggling as he waited in line to meet Santa.  At least I would hope there might be some laughing, especially if we consider the core truth of Christmas — “Emmanuel: God with us!”

The God we worship … our risen Lord … came to be with us.  He chose to be born in a cow barn filled with manure.  Talk about being with the people!  If ever a person could have chosen where to be born, you would think it would be the Christ child.  But philosopher Peter Kreeft says Jesus came and stepped right into the cow poop.

That gives me hope and makes me giddy.  It makes me think, “My Lord and Savior gets me, old broken rat that I am.”  But then I laugh because Jesus looks at me laughing and says, “You’re not an old broken rat.  You’re a redeemed, lovable old broken rat!”

Laughing is found in Psalm 126 where the writer reminds us of the time the Lord “restored the fortunes of Zion.” He recalls that “our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”  That gets me to wondering how often my mouth is filled with laughter and my tongue with songs of joy.

When the old miserly, selfish Scrooge realized that he was spared from death, he was overcome with joy.  He was beside himself with giddiness and laughter.  So was the little guy waiting to talk with Santa.

But yes, a thousand times yes, you and I both know that many people have lives that are in fact a mess and filled with with little joy and laughter.  In fact, if you read the whole of Psalm 126 you can see that the Israelites are in a tough place, too.  They are far from living a life filled with peaches and cream. The are far from being trouble free.

But here’s the key.  They don’t give up.  And neither should we during the times when we feel more sorrow than joy. Thank goodness, verses 5 and 6 of Psalm 126 remind us that hope is coming…

Those who sow with tears
Will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
Carrying seed to sow,
Will return with songs of joy,
Carrying sheaves with them. 

I will admit that during these first three weeks of Advent, I have thought a lot about this broken world. And it has caused me plenty of discouragement, to be totally frank!  But today I am thinking about laughter and and joy, and I am praying that laughter will come to all who love the Lord.  
Remember friends, it was our Lord Jesus himself who said, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:21)

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