Monday, April 18, 2022

Christina Grimmie Loved the Joy of Easter

The celebration of Easter always brings my memory around to someone for whom this holy day was so full of rejoicing and gratitude.

This girl here.

This image (reconceived artistically) originated in a screenshot from a video posted ten years ago, on Easter Sunday, by Christina Grimmie. Accompanying herself on piano (as she always did), Christina sang the hymn “In Christ Alone.” (See the video HERE.) It was one of those occasional moments - one of those discrete but consistent moments - when Christina proclaimed by words her deep faith and love for Jesus Christ. On Easter 2012, she shared a few words about the One whose redeeming joy permeated every aspect of her life. Christina was “compelled” by the love of Jesus to follow a very special path during her brief time in this world. She brought the joy of the resurrection “to the margins” of popular culture and the struggles and anxieties of today’s young people. She brought Christ’s light into the strange and distorted realm of 21st century entertainment, to many people who were touched in ways known only to the Lord, and to lonely kids on the Internet all over the world. She accompanied people through her own talents and interests, with her amazing voice, her luminous smile, her passion for life and determination to live it to the full, her affirming warmth, her “hospitality” that welcomed especially those who were sick, troubled, confused, or burdened by sorrows.

She was a companion to so many people, even along roads where ardent Christian faith was ordinarily unwelcome, but she stayed with people and walked with them with love, with the gift of herself, her music, and her interest in other people’s desires and dreams and problems - in their humanity. And she risked herself, allowed herself to be vulnerable, goofy, funny, stylish - and if she made mistakes she did not allow them to defeat her. Christina persevered on the path the Lord had entrusted to her, living faithfully her offering of her life to Jesus while walking the roads of the world - of human fragility and ambivalence - and shining the light of His love, His joy. 

Christina lived and worked hard to develop and share her artistic genius within the circumstances of the so-often-manipulative music and entertainment world: the world of celebrities and red carpets, of pressure to impress, to measure success according to the opinions of others; the world of “stardom” with the extremity of its superficial adulation, its fickleness and craving for novelty, its illusory promises and inevitable disappointments. She endeavored to be “in” this world as much as possible without compromising herself, or betraying the One to whom she belonged. It was often a razor’s edge, and who knows how many times or in what ways she may have slipped or stumbled, but she knew she could find her feet again through repentance and forgiveness in the embrace of a merciful God.

She also found support, affirmation, and purpose from the group of people who connected with her in special ways, through YouTube (where she was one of the great creative pioneers), her other media accounts, her concerts, and the long meeting-and-greeting sessions after those concerts. She found that the ardent creative vision God had given her - expressed within her gratitude to Him and the “risk” of her adherence to His plan with unconditional love - engendered a unique kind of personal connection with others who were inspired by her and responded to her personally in whatever way they could.

Here Christina encountered God’s merciful embrace in new ways, through the love of others whose hearts were touched (and are still being touched) by her way of being so profoundly human but alsodifferent.” Christina’s “different humanity” - her way of engaging reality, her persistent expectation to find the positivity of everything, the seeds of redemption in everyone and every circumstance - opened the space for the Lord to engender among others (her frands and Team Grimmie) a hope and a love that became very precious to her, far beyond what is ordinarily meant by a “fan base.” 

She loved this friendship and these people who showed her the human face of Jesus (regardless of whether or not they were Christian). And it was possible for her to find Jesus, meet Him, and serve Him in this way. The truth is that Jesus has united Himself with every human person because He takes up the particular humanity of everyone, shapes everyone’s path, and creates everyone’s destiny (working secretly by His Spirit to draw the hearts even of those who do not yet know Him). Christina intuited this, when she wrote her song “With Love” and dedicated it “to the Lord… and to you guys,” the Team Grimmie she loved so much, the friendship that she said on more than one occasion that she loved “more than life.” I think she intuited that the “open friendship” of Team Grimmie was intrinsic to her offering of her life for glory of Christ, that it was worthy of her daily attention, and of the ultimate risk of her vulnerability in front of the unknown. She could love “more than life” because she believed in the resurrection.

As for the Team Grimmie friendship, it continues to grow. Christina’s unconditional “welcome” - her arms open to every person, all the way to the end - has become a great space to find strength and hope for the resurrection, where we can encounter the incredible depths of Christ’s redeeming love.

Happy Easter Week to everyone!