I love the movie “Elf”. It’s one of my Christmas favorites.
I’ve discovered I enjoy the play even more.
Our ten-year-old grand Isley was in her school performance of “Elf, the Musical”. Very much following the antics of Will Farrell in the movie, the songs added another layer of fun. The storyline was tweaked just enough to focus on Buddy’s kindness, sweetness, and simple delight with everything and everyone around him.
No matter how much he tried, he never seemed to fit.
Isley was in the ensemble, an elf in Santa’s workshop, and a little girl experiencing Buddy as his life played out on the big stage. Watching her delight as she was part of this performance gave me insight into the Buddy she has in herself. A sweetness and delight that is sometimes easy to overlook.
Like Buddy experienced with his dad Walter Hobbs, we value purposeful performance and success. As a culture and in our world. Buddy’s awe and wonder at discovering he had a human family and falling in love with Jovie, a cynical gal who didn’t see the hope in Christmas, was tender and without guile. He found pleasure in being present with those he cared about, whether it was a newfound family or Santa Claus.
His honesty was wonderfully refreshing. When he was late for a date with Jovie, he told her he had a good reason for his tardiness.
Honesty like that is often disconcerting. Jovie’s response to Buddy’s admission was shock–not that he forgot, but that he admitted it.
Such character qualities as honesty, joy, delight, and tenderness are often overlooked in a world full of hurry, production, and moving forward.
It’s why Jesus was often overlooked in His ministry. His kindness toward people wasn’t what was expected. The Jewish people were looking for a tough Messiah, a Leader of influence.
Not a Baby born in a stable. Not Someone whose background was unknown and questioned. Not a Teacher that shared that the most important laws to follow were to love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. To turn the other cheek. To treat with kindness and compassion those who hurt or persecute you.
His character wasn’t seen as what a leader should be. He saw the unseen and invisible; He loved the unloveable and the castoffs. He reached out to those rejected by society and by the religious leaders.
He spoke of offering grace and forgiveness for all the mess we get ourselves in. For providing the very thing we need as people to thrive in this life.
A sense of being seen, loved, valued, and fully forgiven.
It’s been said that depression would be reduced if people knew without a doubt they were forgiven. I understand that’s not the whole picture. Upended lives during this season of isolation have made people more susceptible to mental stress. But knowing you’re loved and cared for, that Someone is there for you, could go a long way to helping settle our inner disruptions.
Buddy was an enigma in a busy world.
Jesus has been that for much longer.
What prevents you from embracing your need for the love and forgiveness of Jesus?