Tonight I went with four of my closest friends to see a movie.
It wasn’t a Christmas movie. There were no bells or sleighs or holiday feasts.
But there was laughter.
We saw Anchorman 2, and my sides are still trying to recover.
I’m sure in other corners of the internet there are probably Christians decrying this movie and some of the inappropriate humor it employs. Perhaps I should be as well.
But at the end of the day, I spent two hours laughing with a theatre full of people at Will Ferrell doing what Will Ferrell does best, and I’m just fine with that.
Many are concerned about where our culture is heading, perhaps in no small part due to movies like the one I just saw. And, to a certain extent, they are right to do so.
However, I was reminded tonight of something Chesterton once wrote, a thought that has impacted my understanding of the Trinity more than almost anything else I have encountered.
He ends his fantastic book Orthodoxy with some musings on what Jesus did when he went up the mountain or into the desert to pray to the Father. He observes that throughout the Gospels we see Christ go through almost the entire human experience: joy, sorrow, anger, desperation, hope. But he notices one thing absent from these books that I had never before thought of.
Most people would think the only thing lacking in the story of the Messiah from Nazareth is sin. But I think laughter is also a conspicuous in its absence.
We see Him cry. We see him flip tables. We see Him comfort and exhort and cry out to the heavens in anguish.
But we never see Him laugh.
What Chesterton suggests is that the sight of God laughing is the one thing the human person couldn’t take. It would be too much, too powerful, a too-awesome experience of the Divine.
We must never forget to laugh. Even at the ridiculous or borderline profane, at times, if that is what we have in front of us.
We are children of God, and as a father I know that there has been no experience in this earthly life that moves me like my daughter’s laughter.
When I tickle her or wrestle her or chase her around the basement, it’s all just for that one little giggle, the one that I like to think is just for her and me. It is the prize that rewards all parental sacrifice. It is just the best.
And when we regard the coming of God to us as man, the sheer incomprehensible humility of this turning point of history, let us remember that He came as a child, that He came to show us that the closest thing we have to really seeing the Trinity in this life is the sight of a family, of persons united so deeply and mysteriously in love that this love creates another, something of itself, a third that is really just the completion of us, this family, which was not lacking before but is immeasurably richer and fuller since their arrival.
Not a perfect metaphor; “we see dimly now, as in a mirror”. But as close as we can get.
And so we must believe that the perfect Son crowned His father’s love with wreaths of laughter, the perfection of joy spilling out from the lips and shaking forth from the chest of the beloved child.
Perhaps it is too much to presume that no one ever saw Jesus laugh in His earthly life, but it is hard to imagine how one could have seen it without writing about it, how that experience could not have been almost on par with the Resurrection as the reason for conversion and hope and belief that this truly was God.
So as children of the perfect Father reflecting on the beginning of the merciful gift of His perfect Son’s life with us here in this broken little place, let’s remember to laugh.
I loved being able to share that with my boys tonight. I love all the times I get to laugh on a daily basis in the joyous life my Father has blessed me with. And I especially am grateful for all the chances this season gives me to experience it. It is laughter that helps me feel the Christmas spirit most deeply.
I leave you with the words that so inspired me:
“And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.”