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Frederick Buechner was twenty-seven and living alone in New York trying to start a novel. He tells of going to hear a famous preacher in New York on impulse. He was not a churchgoer, but the church was right next door. It was around the time that Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey and the preacher compared it to Jesus being crowned king in the believer’s heart. Buechner picks up the story: “He said that unlike Elizabeth’s coronation in the Abbey, this coronation of Jesus in the believer’s heart took place among confession — and I thought, yes, yes, confession — and tears, he said — and I thought tears, yes, perfectly plausible that the coronation of Jesus in the believing heart should take place among confession and tears. And then with his head bobbing up and down so that his glasses glittered, he said in this odd, sandy voice, the voice of an old nurse, that the coronation of Jesus took place among confession and tears and then, as God was and is my witness, great laughter, he said. Jesus is crowned among confession and tears and great laughter, and at the phrase great laughter, for reasons that I have never satisfactorily understood, the great wall of China crumbled and Atlantis rose up out of the sea, and on Madison Avenue, at 73rd Street, tears leapt from my eyes as though I had been struck across the face.” He experienced joy because he experienced Jesus.

The hymn says, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her king.” Joy has come to the world, for the Lord of Joy has come. But if joy is to be experienced by the world, then the world, and the world’s people, must receive their king. And when they do, it will be with confession, and tears, and great laughter.

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