‘Meet the Nativity’—and Laugh (Episode 4)

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Meet the Nativity is a time-traveling romantic comedy in which 21st- and 1st-century Christmases magically collide.

The fourth episode, released today, introduces Ken, the father who is trying to maintain control. (Watch Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3.)

Burden of Control

Ken can be domineering. He’s anxious and unhappy. He can even be a bully when things don’t meet his expectations. That’s because Ken’s in the grip of a familiar delusion: the idea that we can control the people and circumstances around us.

As Ken knows, the desire to control leaves us feeling miserable, fearful, powerless, and weak. And when things don’t go the way we want, we feel angry and betrayed by life. As one friend of mine puts it, “If you want to be anxious today, pretend you’re in control.”

Find the person who never laughs at a joke other than his own, and you’ve found the most controlling person in the room.

Ken doesn’t laugh in this episode, not until the end anyway. That’s because to laugh, we have to be willing to give up control. Find the person who never laughs at a joke other than his own, and you’ve found the most controlling person in the room. Because real laughter is involuntary, overwhelming, overpowering. It’s why we have the phrase “laughing helplessly.”

It has a life of its own and can be badly behaved, as you’ll know if you’ve ever gotten the giggles at a funeral. When that kind of laugh gets going, we feel powerless to control it. And yet it is one of the most enjoyable experiences a human being can have. For a moment, when we laugh like this, even the oldest faces recover the bloom of their youth.

Freedom of Letting Go

So finally, Ken meets the nativity. Or rather he meets Joseph, a man who knows the joy of recognizing one’s own helplessness and dependence in the face of an unexpected birth. “It’s hard to let go,” he acknowledges.

Perhaps it’s easier to let go of control when we realize we never really had it anyway. That’s what happens when we meet the infinite infant.

But perhaps it’s easier to let go of control when we realize we never really had it anyway. That’s what happens when we meet the infinite infant. Unable to walk, feed himself, or clothe himself—and yet all-powerful. Needing to be carried—and yet upholding an entire universe. Laying down his power and even his life for those he loves—and yet in control of everything.

Is there something better than anxiously trying to hold on to the illusion of control this Christmas? There is. The relief of handing it over to the One who really is in control, knowing that he will hold you securely in in his arms, gaze at you with infinite love, and nurture you with unfailing care. The One who removes our delusions of control and replaces them with uncontainable laughter.

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