The Audacity of Merriment

Kelley   |   December 23, 2023 

My husband and I have been listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks together (again). One of my favourite scenes in the entire series comes at the beginning of The Half Blood Prince. Times are dark in the wizarding community. The malevolent Voldemort is back in his full strength, his followers are gathering, and he is bent on destroying all things good and beautiful. War is in the air. And the pall it casts upon our beloved characters is tangible. We feel the full weight of the scene as Harry accompanies the Weasley family in shopping for their needed school supplies in Diagon Alley, as they do each term.

Yet, this visit starkly contrasts the experience we know and love. The shrieks of delight at reunion with friends after a summer away, the shopping vendors bustling vibrantly, and the excitement building towards the year to come are absent. In their place are hushed and hurried footsteps, adverts instructing safety measures from dark wizards, and worried mothers not letting their children out of sight. These changes are logical. War calls for vigilance, and while I grieve the loss of the “normal” Diagon Alley shopping day, I understand.

And then, we reach Fred and George Weasley’s new joke shop, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. The joke shop is a total paradox to the heavy atmosphere surrounding it:

“Set against the dull, poster-muffled shop fronts around them, Fred and George’s windows hit the eye like a firework display. Casual passersby were looking back over their shoulders at the windows, and a few rather stunned-looking people had come to a halt, transfixed. The left-hand window was dazzlingly full of an assortment of goods that revolved, popped, flashed, bounced, and shrieked. Harry’s eyes began to water just looking at it.”

Fred and George Weasley have created a shop of fun, wonder, and laughter in a world of hiding, despair, and fear. What audacity! The reader breathes a sigh of relief as they enter the shop that overflows with the Weasley twins’ personalities, caught up in their magical world, forgetting for a few minutes that the enemy is raging. The shop is a blinking neon sign to Voldemort and all his minions that his reign of terror does not have the final word over the spirit of the wizarding community. And I absolutely love it.

I am struck by the comparison the Weasley shop amid war holds with the ability of believers in Christ to experience joy (and even fun)  amid the war we engage in daily— the audacity of merriment in the life of believers. Within this advent season, the audacity of celebrating Christmas itself strikes me. Each Christmas, I feel the weariness of this world a bit more heavily than the last.

Each year of life in this fallen world, I have seen more of the dismal consequences of our sin, experienced more viscerally the cry that this is not how things should be, and undergone more attacks from the enemy to believe the darkness will win. (I acknowledge that I have not known a tenth of the suffering many battle-weary believers experience daily). We are also at war. Paul tells us that in this war, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

If we are followers of Christ, we have an enemy who hates us and who wages battle against our soul every day.  And we are right, like the community in Harry Potter, to take up a posture of “constant vigilance.” And yet, it seems that the Weasleys’ shop was a measure of vigilance against the enemy in its own unique way. The community needed laughter more, not less, during the dismal war days. In a much greater way, we need the merriment of Christmas and all it involves much more with each passing battle year as we wait on our Redeemer.

This year, I have seen my sin deeply hurt those closest to me. I have seen friends experience unspeakable loss. In the harming of those most vulnerable, I have read news of evil that my heart cannot fathom. It is in this world, in my heart, that I need Christ-produced merriment more than ever. I need to remember that darkness has not won the day. Because Christ, God with us, Immanuel, has entered this world of darkness, we know that our story ends in victory. We can be audacious in celebrating light because we know that his light rules over the darkness, even as we wait to fully see the light of Christ revealed.

In the audacity of merriment that we are called to in the midst of battle, I would like to explain what I do not mean. I do not mean that we live in denial of the raging war or have an unrealistic view of the power of our enemies: the Devil, this world, and our own flesh. I also do not wish to suggest in the least that we develop a sort of callous spirit of fun and levity in seasons of deep grief. As the proverb states, “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” (Proverbs 25:20). No, we grieve deeply, and we do not take an insensitive tone of merriment to a house of mourning.

What I mean instead by the audacity of merriment is that we are free to be like the Proverbs 31 woman who “laughs at the time to come” (v.25). We do not have to fear and mourn in an ultimate sense as the world does because as those who walk with Christ we know that Satan has already received the deathblow in Jesus’s incarnation, sinless life, criminal’s death, victorious resurrection, public ascension and his present powerful reign over the church and the world. And he will be crushed to the point of inflicting no more pain on Jesus’ people on the last day, which opens the door to all of our true days. On the day when all of the depths of sorrow that have penetrated our hearts will be transformed into a joyful and eternal weight of glory in the Son.

Because of this, we can live audaciously as believers, and we can do that this very Christmas. We need to sing carols of Christ’s victories more, not less. We get to feast with family and friends with the warm lights of Christmas trees in defiance of the darkness that claims that light will never prevail. We get to give generously from our own places of need so that the gospel goes forth and continues to penetrate the darkness through word and deed ministry throughout this world.

This Christmas, I challenge myself to experience the audacity of merriment. I challenge us all to sing, make rose cookies, deliver plum cakes to our neighbours, and bask in the glow of beautiful light displays, even if it might feel frivolous in light of the raging war. We had the audacity to sin against a holy God who has come himself to pay for our guilt and to win us a new life of his own righteousness. This is the ultimate truth, and in this truth, we will ultimately be not only okay but perfect. In faith in Christ’s sure victory, may we all have ourselves a merry little Christmas.


Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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Kelley loves coffee dates, scheduling, traveling whenever possible, and reading fiction. She is passionate about life in Bangalore where she resides with her husband and little girl. She is currently enjoying learning to drive in the city, though she still enjoys long auto rides the most. This year, she is learning more about her identity in Christ and how only he provides true rest for her soul. With this, she is learning to take herself less seriously and to take him more seriously (a work in progress for sure!)

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