Thursday, May 22, 2014

Between the Laughing and Crying Jesus As I sit here behind the desk in my office I look up to my left and on the wall is a picture of “the laughing Jesus.” Many people who come to my office make comments about this picture which depicts Jesus with his head slightly tilted backward and his mouth wide open as he laughs. His eyes are closed and one might wonder why he is laughing. We do not know of course, but the picture can open the door of one’s imagination. Perhaps he is laughing in response to one of the religions leaders, who has just chastised Jesus because he healed a man on the Sabbath. “You are kidding aren’t you,” Jesus may have just uttered. “You are more concerned about a religious observance than you are about this man’s well being?!” Or maybe Jesus is laughing because one of the children he has just blessed despite the lecture by his disciples that it is inappropriate to be spending time dealing with children who after all should be seen and not heard; has just pulled at his beard. Just after Jesus closes his mouth and ends his laugh is when he looks at one of his serious minded disciples and says with a bit of a chuckle, “By the way if you want to really understand what this new kingdom I am bringing is like, you must become as one of these children that you seem to want nothing to do with.” We may never know why Jesus is laughing in my picture but to my left there hangs another image of him and we all know why he is crying. This Jesus is hanging on a cross. His head is again tilted slightly but this time it is titled downward. If you look close there are tears in his eyes. You say, “I have never seen tears in his eyes.” O, they are there. He is in the process of dying on that tree. As with questions that come up about his laughing one might ponder what the tears mean. Is he crying because of the physical pain he is enduring? Is the source of the tears the memory of words that pierce his soul; words like, “I will never deny you,” or “That’s him, the one over there” that were spoken by Judas? Maybe he is crying because he feels so all alone. Even his father seems absent. So I live my life between the laughing and the crying Jesus and so do you. He laughed for you and for me, and he cried for you and for me. I think he still does. He laughs at how we get tripped up on religious stuff when the big picture of helping God heal the world is so much more important. He laughs when we think we can hide our thoughts from him because we are ashamed of them and perhaps he whispers through a smile, “Come on you don’t have to do that, it’s me.” And I suppose he cries when we get so busy that we forget what it took to gain our attention. He still weeps when we ignore the people who are forgotten. He came so that no one would be forgotten. Thank you Jesus, for laughing with me and not at me. Thank you for the tears you shed because you loved me and us so much. I shall bow my head and say to you, “Keep me between your laugh and your tears.”