December 16, 2013
Have yourself a merry little Christmas…
Recognized in 2007 as the third-most-recently-performed Christmas song in America, it’s a piece of advice that runs in the audio background of our crowd-intense December wanderings.
Written by Hugh Martin, it was introduced in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis, sung by Judy Garland. It really broke into cultural mainstream when it was redone later by Frank Sinatra, with modified lyrics (“…if the Lord allows” became, “…if the fates allow.” Martin was a Christian, and wrote with a faith-based view of life and Christmas not shared by Frank Sinatra).
The lead-line – and, title – are haunting: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas…” It presumes the ability to self-initiate the factors that combine to create joy that lasts longer than a latte, and is founded in the people around the tree instead of what’s under the tree. For “…troubles to be out of sight” means that something more compelling has moved into view, that overshadows the gloom of “reality.”
I’ve been moved all week by a fleeting news item that popped up from Northern California. Jackie Turner is a 26-year-old honors student at William Jessup University who posted an ad on Craigslist that has gone viral: “I am looking to rent a mom and dad who can give me attention and make me feel like the light of their life just for a couple of days because I really need it.” She’s soliciting a family at Christmas time, and can pay – at most – an hourly rate of $8.
Today, she’s a presidential scholar with a 4.0 GPA, but her childhood was marked by physical, sexual and emotional abuse. She disappeared into the streets and was dissipated by drugs, gangs and crime; she was arrested, convicted and incarcerated for grand theft, and spent a year in prison.
Upon her release in 2010, Jackie decided to go to a camp for troubled teens called Christian Encounter Ministries. She met Jesus… and her life experienced a dramatic turn.
Today, she has a Heavenly Father, but she doesn’t have an earthly family. "I’ve never felt the touch of my mom hugging me and holding me. I don’t know what it’s like to look in my dad’s eyes and feel love instead of hatred."
Her ad – and the, unsought publicity – have resulted in numerous offers by families to join them during Christmas, without charge. In addition, Jackie is now hoping to arrange a meeting for all the people who have answered her ad with the same need, so no one would be alone this holiday season.
Humanity had not taken out an ad in Craigslist, but the universal need 2000 years ago was unmistakable: everyone was lonely. The essential need for authentic connection – to be yourself, in a setting where an accepting embrace was the result of honest transparency – is built into the fabric of every person. What God designed into His creation – continuing connection with Him, and with one another – had been shattered in Eden, and impossible to reclaim until Calvary.
“Rent-a-family” is no solution. You can’t pay for intimacy that satisfies, but you can receive it as a gift. The kind of reciprocal love that satisfies the soul was the underlying agenda that set God into action, in an intergalactic mission that transported one person – the Lord Jesus Christ – from Heaven to Earth, with a landing spot chosen eons earlier, in the zip code of Bethlehem.
John didn’t give us shepherds and wise men, or angels and innkeepers; his account was the story-behind-the-story: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-4, 14)
It’s #1 on every Christmas list: we need someone. Holiday loneliness gets 3.4 million Google hits; the real solution has just one: it’s Jesus, sent to take “alone” out of play. God’s plan: No more Jackies…