There’s a Robert Earl Keen song that has become synonymous with the holidays for me and my sister. Merry Christmas from the Family is gritty, a tad off-color, and pretty much makes us howl laughing every time we sing it. Which is often. It’s the kind of song that really requires a karaoke machine to get the full effect. But, do what you can.
The lyrics paint a preposterous picture of country & western stereotype and a family holiday that’s gone so far south you’ll never catch it. As Robert Earl Keen says, “you just can’t make this stuff up.” I’m also pretty sure he didn’t say stuff.
The song has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus, but everything to do with our messy lives. Which, of course, has everything to do with Jesus. The song describes what I call ‘in the meantime’ situations. We cling to mountaintop moments, and cherish our sacred times when we feel the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding. Josh Groban’s Silent Night is an example of sacred. I’ve already cried seven times this morning listening to that one.
But, what about those gritty moments when the dog dies, your job’s on the line, or someone you love shows up drunker than a skunk to the family dinner? In these ‘in the meantime’ situations it’s harder to worship, huh?
Keen’s song is a modern day parable. . . drunks, family dysfunction, forked family trees. Hmmm, sounds oddly familiar to, I don’t know, most of Genesis? Minus the can of fake snow and Marlboro Lights.
The song tells a story. All stories eventually run straight into the gospel. The same can be said about living life. Live your life and you will eventually run into the gospel. God is in the dog-dying, job-canning, drunk-uncle moments as much as he is the silent nights.
You won’t find these ‘in the meantime’ moments on Pinterest. But, rest assured God is with each and every one of us, whether we are singing Josh Groban or Robert Earl Keen. Or, if you are like me, both.
Hallelujah. Everybody say CHEESE!