This year, more than others, I am seeing so much stress and sadness surrounding Christmas. It is heartbreaking, but understandable. This time of year seems to magnify all our emotions, good and bad. I’ve been lifting so many friends up in prayer, that they would get through this season with minimal pain, but it’s harder to pray for strangers. The other day my friend, who is lovely and friendly and joyful said “hello” to a stranger while out shopping and the woman sarcastically called her a jolly elf and swore at her. What?!
I knew immediately what piece of Jesus artwork I wanted to feature today. It’s the most joyful Jesus picture I can think of:
This painting was hanging in my elementary school growing up. Jesus isn’t often depicted as smiling, let alone laughing- but more and more are being created, which I love. No doubt Jesus laughed a lot in his short life. The guys in my family take a fishing trip every other year and they come back with hilarious stories, so I know Jesus and his disciples had a blast on their fishing boats. Not to mention gauging reactions to miracles and schooling Pharisees.
There isn’t much information about this painting, but we know it was done by Willis Wheatley, a Canadian artist, in 1973. It was originally titled Jesus Christ Liberator. When Wheatley passed away, the United Church of Canada acquired rights to it, and they allowed some priests in San Francisco to mass produce it (the priests changed the title to The Laughing Christ). An artist in northern Michigan (holler!!) added color and really began mass producing (giving it one final name change: Jesus Laughing); now there are over 1 million copies floating around, including the one at Faith Lutheran elementary.
I hope the rest of your holiday season, and the rest of your year (decade!) is spent with a smile on your face and the joy of Jesus in your heart. May you laugh your way through Christmas and smile your way into the New Year. May nobody swear at you. May you have no need to swear at anybody else. In this season, I hope we will remember the baby Jesus from our nativity scenes grows into a joyful, laughing adult. And that is no joke.