In my office I have on my wall an inexpensive sketch of Jesus. I don’t remember exactly where I picked it up, but I do remember that the first time I saw it, I was so taken by it that I immediately purchased it, took it to a framing store and had it framed. I have had it in my office ever since—which has now been for decades.
What immediately captured my attention is that it shows Jesus laughing. There is no hint of the burden of the impending cross, as you often seen in many other portraits of Jesus. There is no indication that his heart is cracked with care. Instead, he is laughing one of those boisterous laughs that starts from deep down inside and makes its way to the surface; one that is so full of life and joy it cannot be hidden.
The picture is positioned on a wall just to the side of my desk and is one I often look at as I’m doing my work. Sometimes when I look at it, I think of people in this church who are going through tough times and the promise Jesus offers them of abundant and eternal life. Sometimes, it is simply a reminder to me to lighten up a bit. I didn’t use to be this way, but as I have grown older, I tend to let life weigh me down more than necessary sometimes.
However, this afternoon as I sat down and my eyes caught a glimpse of the picture, I started thinking about something else. I started thinking about things here in this church that I think would cause Jesus to smile.
For example, I thought about Foodstock. Hundreds of people are going to gather in the Gym tomorrow and as a result of their efforts more than 300,000 meals are going to be packaged and shipped around the world to people who might not otherwise have anything to eat. I think that will make Jesus smile.
I thought of our Guatemala Mission Team. Already we have sent several mission teams (Youth and Adult) to various parts of the world to help make a difference in the lives of others. This Sunday, we will pray and commission another team to go to Guatemala. I think that will make Jesus smile.
I thought about our Children’s Ministries. Earlier this summer we had Vacation Bible School, where more than 500 children participated. Last week, many of our young people started back to school. Others will do so in the next week or so. This Sunday morning, we will have the Blessing of the Backpacks. The children will be invited to bring their backpacks to the altar of the church, where we will ask God to use this next year to help them grow, mature and become all God wants them to become. I think that will make Jesus smile.
Of course, I thought about many other things that are happening in the church right now. I thought about our preschool program and our Prayer Ministry. I thought about the small groups for our youth, our Wednesday Night Supper and the various adult studies that are about to get under way. I think Jesus is smiling about all of these things and so many more.
It is important to remember we not only have a Lord that walks with us when we go through challenging times. We also have a Lord that takes delight in us and in the things we do that positively impact other people. And because of your efforts and energy, I think Jesus has a big smile on his face.
See you Sunday, if not before. Until then…