Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Merry Christmas to You, Dear Christina Grimmie

Once again, Christmas approaches, and for the last six years I have celebrated the birth of Jesus with the help of a wonderful human being whose life, music, and witness have been a shining light reminding me that Jesus gives meaning to everything.

Jesus does not hide in just the part of my life devoted to explicitly "religious" thoughts and practices. He is my whole life, and He wants me to recognize His companionship and be strengthened by it in every facet of that life: in my interests in media, culture, and society, my love for music, my hopes for the new generation of young people, my entertainments and "diversions" and laughter and sense of fun. He also wants me to trust in Him in the changes, sorrows, tragedies, and in all the incomprehensibility of life. 

He wants to sustain and deepen my hope in His victory over death.

When Christina Grimmie was taken from this world five-and-a-half years ago at the tender age of 22, she had already accomplished so much as a pioneer on YouTube, recording artist and songwriter, and one of the most memorable contestants ever to participate in the television competition show The Voice. Her talent and abilities were astonishing, and yet her personal qualities were even more remarkable in that she was not proud or self-absorbed; indeed she was quite the opposite: gentle, humble, lots of fun, radiant with affirmation and deep affection for anyone she encountered, with an appropriately firm sense of her own value and a great capacity to love that was rooted in the fact that she knew herself to be loved

All of this she communicated to her peers in a "natural" way, which was (to superficial eyes) hardly discernible from what everyone else did, but which in fact had an inspiring and penetrating power because (I am convinced) she had offered everything to Jesus for His glory. Ever since the dramatic fulfillment of her offering of herself to the very end, it has seemed that all the (often apparently ordinary) gestures leading up to it are illuminated on a deeper level and continue to reach people and change them to this present day.

Christina was full of smiles and kindness, not out of a mere sentimentality, but for love. She was innocent but not naive; hers was a strong goodness, ready to bear the burdens of others, to suffer with them (even as she has known much suffering in her own life because of her mother's long battle with cancer, among other things).

From time to time she indicated simply and directly the great aim of all her activity: Jesus, and His glory. She was not a preacher. She was a lover, a great lover, and each and every one of us was touched personally and carried along within the superabundant amplitude of her love for Him.

Several years ago, I wrote an article [see HERE] about the music Christina Grimmie gave us for the Christmas Season. She never recorded a Christmas album as such, but YouTube preserves the legacy of her covers from two Christmas Stage-it shows in 2012 and 2014, as well as numerous other individual songs. 

Indeed, it was ten years ago at this time (December 15, 2011 to be exact) that the then-17-year-old posted her stunning, jaw-dropping, gorgeous rendition of O Holy Night. In doing so, she almost apologized for the fact that she had prerecorded the track of her own piano arrangement to accompany her voice, rather than trying to sing the immensely challenging vocals while simultaneously accompanying herself on the piano - as was her standard practice with nearly all the covers she posted over the years. In fact, her humble confidence, great labors, and persistent love bore fruit in a precious, lucid, unforgettable rendition of this classic Christmas song.

Now especially, as Christmas 2021 draws near, I am more than ever grateful for the smile of Christina. We can still see the countless images of her beautiful face that still shine all over YouTube and in a multitude of legacy accounts on Instagram, as well as my own poor efforts to "spend time" with her and allow images of her face to inspire my own artistic creativity. In this first-ever Christmas for me without either of my own parents, and for continued encouragement in the face of personal losses suffered by our friends, I am glad that Christina's witness to Jesus - the Lord of the living and the dead - remains a vital presence, and for me personally a constantly renewed reawakening to joy.

Dear Christina Grimmie, thank you for your LOVE! 💚

Your love continues to touch and move people's lives because it flowed from your faith and your hope in the One who is born at Christmas, who died and rose and lives forever, the One who has the last word on the mystery of why we exist, the One in whom you live, the One who is transforming us and reaching out to everyone, to heal the deepest wounds and the most incomprehensible sorrows.


He called you to Himself five-and-a-half years ago, and we miss you in this world and we still don't understand "why?" Perhaps we have begun to see signs, hints that there was [and is] so much more to who you are than any act of violence can destroy.

It all remains mysterious to us while we journey through this world, and still touched with sorrow. But perhaps we are beginning to discover a joy in the midst of it all - a joy that promises to endure. Now we celebrate again the birth of Jesus, and we are reminded again, dear Christina, of the love you shared with us, how you poured yourself out so that we might know that we have been loved by God who has come to dwell among us and make us brothers and sisters in His joy.

You said that your singing and your whole life were "for His glory." Dear Christina, how greatly you SHINE in Him! 💚✝️🎄⭐️