The comedian stood on the stage and shouted "12".
And the audience laughed in unison.
He then said "15" and they laughed even louder.
He cried out "23" and they stamped their feet with delight as they laughed and applauded.
He continued with his repertoire "24 ... 33 ... 39 ..." and the audience were in tears with laughter as he kept calling out various numbers.
After about fifteen minutes or so on stage I asked him afterwards in his room what all that was about.
He explained, "This is a very loyal audience who follow me everywhere wherever I do a show. Over the years they got to know all my jokes and they enjoy hearing them over and again. In order to make the show go faster, and so that I can pack in more jokes, I have printed them all out and numbered them. The audience have memorised all the jokes. Now all I have to do is call out the number, they remember the joke, and laugh at it!"
I was amazed at what he had just said. "Why ..." I asked hesitantly, "why did they not laugh when you said 42?"
"They had not heard that joke before!" he answered.
Over the passed few days we have heard the story of Christmas read out in church several times.
A pregnant Virgin and her husband go to Bethlehem on a donkey. There is no room in the inn. They go to the stable where a baby is born and placed in a manger. An Angel appears to shepherds and announces the Birth; and a star guides three Kings from the East to the stable.
We've all heard the story many times before and no doubt we will hear it again next Christmas and beyond.
Is it yet another old story from folklore which tradition repeats every twelve months and, like that comedian's audience, we remember once again and smile silently as we celebrate with family and friends?
Or is it perhaps something more important than that? In fact, the most important event that has ever happened in the history of the world.
God, the Creator of the whole Universe and what is in it and beyond it, loved us so much that He decided to make Himself flesh and visit us on earth as a human being.
I wonder how many people, as they celebrate the "12" days of Christmas from the 25th to the 6th, stop for a moment and really and seriously think about the awesomeness that this event really means?
1? ... 3? ... 7? ... 100? ... More?