Introduction: Christmas Laughter
There is a certain excitement that swathes the world when Christmas approaches. Interestingly, this is despite the religious extractions of people. It seems it is a season that almost everyone identifies with. Merry-making of diverse forms become a common sight to behold. It is a season that is marked by the home-coming of family and friends. Somehow, cities and towns become more populous. An increase in vehicular traffic is no news. Trade in materials for food, fashion, and beautifications skyrockets. In our part of the world, the cacophony of the bleating of goats, mooing of cows, quacking of ducks, and clucking of hens identifies the season. Churches become full. It is right, then, to talk about the laughter of Christmas. It is a season of great mirth, love, and pleasure. It is with great expectation that Christmas is welcomed. The joy of its first day may be said to be deep-seated. Can we say the same for its second day? A certain melancholy characterises the second day of Christmas; the laughter fades, the noise of enjoyment dwindles and the ringing of Christmas bells gives way to the tolling of the same. The kind of joy that enters the soul of people in connection with the understanding one has of the purpose of the season impinges much on the resilience of the joy one experiences during the season.
The Pursuit of Joy
Humanity has a great desire to experience joy in this life. On the first consideration, it would seem, strikingly, that our life is in pursuit of joy. Though one’s life begins with a first cry, well, attended by smiley faces, and ends with a cry from loved ones amidst our silence, in between, we are optimistic about joy and go running after it. This joy we believe even transcends this life to the otherworldly. People seek this joy through diverse means.
Pleasure becomes the goal of some who hunt for joy. Hedonistic tendencies have become widespread. Living to please the desires of the flesh; gluttony, heavy drinking and all kinds of activities that are done to bring peace and tranquility do not suffice. People continually do these to attain joy but the end result is frustration. The result of this is not the joy that is well grounded, rather, it is a superficial feeling of joy that fades away rather swiftly.
The chase after the joy is witnessed further in the great effort people put in becoming successful. Acquiring wealth in various forms so one becomes comfortable in life has been a popular means used to achieving joy. The reality is that hardly does satisfaction comes with materialism. It is not surprising to see people deciding to get a particular material to become fulfilled. Upon landing such materials, fulfillment fails them, then, their attention is turned to something else. This approach does not guarantee joy.
Some seek this joy from divine sources. The gods have been regarded as the source of true joy. In primal religious thoughts and practices, various religious acts are employed towards getting joy. The gods dictate the way by which humans must live to enter into joy. Religious men strive hard to live a life that would assure them of joy. This living may be an ascetic lifestyle, a life of ritual offering to please the gods or a life that promises full allegiance to the object of worship.
The manner in which Christmas is received resonates with the various means by which people tend to pursue joy in life. Meanwhile, the joy the season is meant to give the world is a joy that must well up in souls, springing up into eternal life. Such joy does not fade away on the second day of Christmas. It matures based on the concrete understanding of what Christmas gives the world indeed.
Joy that springs
There is a joy that persists through diverse life experiences. This joy is not superficial. It has a special touch to it during Christmas as the world is reminded of the birth of the Saviour of the world. It stands the test of time. It is not the joy that comes with vivacity in the morning and lands us in tattered sorrow at night. When Christmas elapses, this joy stands tall, not to even talk of it dwindling on the second day of Christmas. This state of the heart of humanity is able to navigate through discomforting points in life as it always has in view a greater good.
Some who live in this state of mind may be accused of not facing the realities of life. Their resilience through the storms may be adjudicated as abnormal. The hope they live by strikes others with the most wonder. This joy is far from being replaced with melancholy; it wells up evermore. This joy comes into the human heart per our discovery of its ultimate source and coming into a genuine faith in this source. Indeed, there is a joy that comes from outside into the human. It is a divine gift that makes mere men share in the joy of God.
The Joy of God
Considering the level of joy that automatically engulfs the life of people at Christmas, it is an appropriate time to engage the issue of where lies our source of joy indeed. As it is, it is not farfetched to connect Christmas with joy. The announcement of the birth of Jesus was in fact connected to joy. An Angel of God broke the news to some shepherds keeping watching at night thus: “. . . Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10, NKJV). What follows was praise and merrymaking (Luke 2:13-14). The joy of the angelic host, undoubtedly, would not be a joy that would fade away on the second day. They have an understanding of what it means for the Saviour of the world to be born. Consequently, this joy would persists insofar as it repercussions remain.
This is a story of humanity’s search for joy and to a reach a place of utopia in life. Many approaches have been enacted in our bid to discover the fountain of joy and to swim in it eternally. Our journey in search of joy, sadly, has been punctuated with grave disappointments. We always swim in our tears back home to our old self of sorrow. Then an eventful occurrence ensued wherein it is announced to the world that the Saviour of the world is born. The birth announcement provokes us unto joy.
The joy that comes to the world at Christmas must not be detached from its substance. The Saviour who is born is the real cause of joy. Such an apprehension of the joy and laughter of Christmas would launch humanity under a fountain of joy that lingers on even on the second day of Christmas literally and metaphorically; all year round after Christmas stands as the second day of Christmas. This is the joy of God. This joy comes by our understanding of the indescribable fatherly love of God towards us, the momentous birth and heroic work of Christ in earning our salvation and walking in the Spirit.
We could say that our search of joy has been rewarding if the end of our journey finds us at the point where joy lasts evermore. Experimentation of the joy of God with the joy at Christmas is tenable. The joy at Christmas is almost spontaneous. It comes to the whole world. Howbeit, there is a certain melancholy of the second day of Christmas. Why should this be? This comes about when the joy that is experienced is just a superficial feeling. To discover the fountain of joy that wells up eternally, there must a genuine apprehension of the real source of joy and the substance of the Christmas season. The joy of God springs up evermore. This must be our utmost desire.
Writtten by By Dr. Stephen Ofotsu Ofoe