Every Thought Captive

Laughter and Tears: A Christmas Meditation, Part I

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there will be no end.

Luke 1:31-33

Imagine an early morning before work. It’s still dark out. Think of the one-bedroom apartment of a young married couple. It has been at least 30 years since it was a cool place to live in the city, but it is nice enough, and the rent is right. A man in his late twenties stands in the kitchen. A small round table for two is against the wall just off the living room. Recessed lighting glows fluorescent white.

The man’s wife walks out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. She wears athletic shorts, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes, ready to get a workout in. She stops within reach and, almost imperceptibly, trembles. The whites of her eyes are tinged red and pooling wet. A burning edge of gold, mingling green and brown, flames around the rim of narrowed pupils. Her lips quiver.

She says, “I’m pregnant.”

In an instant, without a trumpet blast or marching troop, an immense wall of fear and unfulfilled hope comes tumbling down. A feeling like seeing your bride walk through the back doors of the church on your wedding day or the punchline of a good joke, and tears fill the little apartment. The man laughs. “It’s still very early,” she says. “But the test is positive.” He holds his wife, smiling uncontrollably.

The man who laughed is myself, and I think of this now as Christmas draws near: a pregnancy, laughter, and tears. Christmas comes, I think, with a sharp edge, touching as sadness, because we long to be fully known and embraced, to say I’m sorry and be forgiven and to love more fiercely than death. We want all our dear ones home for Christmas. But they won’t be. And death still hurts love. And some rifts are so deep they will never mend. And there is a chest and gut pin-prickling fire of the fear that if you really knew me you would leave me. Unless. Unless, the story is true.

The story of Christmas is the fact of the impossible made possible by divine promise, paid in person. God came for us in real time, our time, and for all time in and through an utterly unique pregnancy, fully human and fully divine. This freedom of God in action accomplished something for us we could never achieve on our own. Where laughter and tears come by surprise there is the memory of Christmas, that Jesus Christ came to save us.

About the Author

Photograph of Brett Bradshaw

Brett Bradshaw

Director of Spiritual Formation

Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Brett Bradshaw serves as the Director of Christian Formation at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas. Andrea is his wife whom he delights to love. Ellie, Emery, and Haven are his precious daughters, the little ones who are a daily glimpse of the Kingdom of God.