"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly," Gilbert Chesterton quipped.
Most people think of angels as always being serious. After all, aren't they God's servants, sent to do his divine bidding? When angels bring a message, it comes straight from God. The guardian angels intervene in life-and-death situations. Warrior angels frighten ordinary mortals and deter them from evil deeds. The seraphim spend all their time in worship before the heavenly throne of God. All this is serious business indeed.
Do angels have fun? Do they have a sense of humor? We don't find an answer to this question directly in the Bible, but there is reason to believe that at times angels do, indeed, take themselves lightly.
In the Bible angels think, exercise their will, and feel emotions. They have the characteristics of personality. We have no difficulty with thoughts of angels loving, comforting, and encouraging. It would follow that other characteristics of personality would also be a part of their makeup, including a sense of humor.
Seriousness of purpose and humor often go together. Members of small groups that study the Bible in earnest, share their deep needs, and pray fervently for one another, usually report that a kind of holy hilarity becomes a natural part of their meetings. Elton Trueblood in his book "The Humor of Christ" makes a very compelling case that Jesus had a fine sense of humor. As the creator of the angels it would be unlikely that Christ would make them humorless....
Along with the serious stories people have told us, we have also heard others that struck us as being amusing as well, making us believe that angels do have a sense of humor. Here is one. Read it and decide for yourself if the angels themselves might have laughed at this unusual encounter.
It's the little foxes that spoil the grapes, the Old Testament writer reminds us. Little things can make our lives crazy. For Helen Shirling, it was a hammock.
At Christmas, Helen and her husband had always put their tree on their glassed-in front porch where it could be seen from the street as well as from the living room. To make room for the tree, they always moved the hammock from the porch to the basement.
Helen tells the story: "I knew I should wait for my son to help me, but I wanted it done right now. You've heard the saying, 'Lord, grant me patience, but I want it right now.' We have a large basement, and when I couldn't budge the hammock, I thought I could just leave it together and drag it downstairs.
"I dragged the thing through the house, knocking things down as I went. When I got to the basement door, I found there was no way I could turn it around to go through the door and down the stairs. I was perspiring and disgusted with self for not waiting for help that my son would have so willingly given me.
"I thought of Billy Graham's saying that we have personal angels. I cried out, 'If there are angels all around me, why don't they help me when I need it?'
"Right before my eyes that hammock fell apart. Pieces rolled across the floor and under the table. All I had to do was pick up the parts and carry them to the basement.
"I froze in my tracks when it happened. To this day I still get goose bumps when I tell about it.
"The family has never let me forget it, and they laugh about Helen's angels. Now whenever they see an angel figure in a store, they buy it for me."
For Helen, it's proof that angels help even when we don't deserve their assistance. She is still amazed that the angels were not so high-and-mighty that they weren't above taking a hammock apart.
Helen has a nice angel collection. "How did you get so many?" friends ask.
"It's a funny story," Helen replies.