The Trickster of Christmas

The Trickster of Christmas

The Christmas story is one that takes us into a world of mystery. Virgin birth, singing angels and puzzled parents. It also offers us a glimpse into a party going on with surprises created to delight. 

He stepped out of the dingy cave for a brief moment of fresh air.

‘Ahh,’ he sighed and drew in a hearty lungful of the crisp night.

It was just getting too overcrowded in there for an introverted carpenter with sheep, cows, donkeys and all those shepherds coming to see his son.

‘Whoops hold on. How there is a big question’ he thought to himself. ‘Is he my son’? He had gotten engaged to Mary and then she found herself pregnant. Now he knew, and she knew they hadn’t had sex.

What a scandal and then her saying it was Gods son. Talk about stretching out a story. Then just to mess with his head even further an angel turned up and told him that Mary was indeed pregnant with Gods son.

It was a crazy story that no one believed. He struggled with it himself even though he too had a visit from an angel. Never the less he had decided to go along with it because he did love Mary and wanted the very best for her.

No magic carpet was laid out for them, though. You would think if God wanted this to happen they could have made it easier. Instead, he and Mary walked all the way to his hometown with Mary just about to burst with God. No special birthing unit, just a cave out behind a boarding house.

No special birthing unit either, just a cave out behind a boarding house.

It was all quite unexpected. It’s not how you would expect the God of the universe to behave.

As he looked out at the star-filled night, he tried to count the stars just like his ancestor Abraham did.

He couldn’t help but wonder if there was a party going on out there somewhere. That this was like some sort of a ‘surprise, welcome to the joy’ party game being thrown onto unsuspecting guests.

The hosts singing out ‘Look at us, see what we can do, and we have only just begun.’

With that interesting thought, Joseph turned to go back into the cave.

He wondered what sort of trickster games this wee baby might get up to?

Walk on water, fly through the air, or maybe turn some water into wine? A grin formed.

‘I don’t understand God, but probably one-day people will make up a religion out of this.’


Have you heard about the trickster?

Wikipedia describes the character of a trickster in this way.

A Trickster is a character in a story which exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge, and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behaviour.

Tricksters “…violate principles of social and natural order, playfully disrupting normal life and then re-establishing it on a new basis.” Trickster

Liz Gilbert, writer of ‘Big Magic’, says this about the trickster.

The trickster sees through our delusions of seriousness
and exposes the play underneath all our drama. Liz Gilbert

We get so serious about the Christmas story whereas underneath I think Spirit (Holy) would like us to experience some of the fun they had in such an event.

Christmas displays God ‘disobeying’ our normal rules and conventions. Not to hurt us or to make us feel foolish but as a creative expression of what they are like. A party going on!

Oh yes, and we are all invited.

This is Gods delight. Playfulness expressed for all to partake.

Mental Health

Mental Health can indeed be a serious business. We, humans, struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and a thousand other diagnoses.

The trickster may well want to come into your world, playfully disrupt it and then re-establish it on a new basis. It’s living in the context of someone bringing all things together, even the bad stuff, into something delightfully and playfully good.

I don’t believe Joseph or Mary were ever the same again.


Quotes to consider

  • Creativity should always look at the world sideways, backwards, upside down. Liz Gibert
  • The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions,
    we are no longer dealing with God. Rob Bell
  • Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved. Peter Kreft

Questions to answer

  • What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘trickster’?
  • Put yourself into Josephs sandals. What would you think and feel if all those strange occurrences happened to you?
  • What is it like to be swept up into the flow of a dance? Scary? Exciting?

Barry Pearman

Image: Martin Sattler

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