“She said to him: ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Mark 7:28
“I want to be a professional singer … as famous as Elaine Paige.” That’s what Susan Boyle said after having made a rather frumpy entrance onto the stage of Britain’s Got Talent. From looking at her and seeing how she presented herself the audience and judges alike were more than a little skeptical.
These various talent shows (Britain / America / Australia etc.’s Got Talent, The X Factor) are very popular and extremely profitable. Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream audition – uploaded to Youtube on April 11, 2009, has received over 156,897, 705 hits. 14-year old Jai has received over 2 million hits on Australia’s X Factor, posted to Youtube on July 29, 2013. Shaheen Jafargholi’s Britain’s Got Talent performance was uploaded to Youtube on April 18, 2009. It currently has received over 39 million hits.
As we peruse the video performances from these various talent shows it seems that there is something more than talent that causes a contestant to rise to the top. They have a story that suggests they might not have had a lot of places in their lives where they have been told “Yes”. The stories are of broken homes, being bullied, tough circumstances. Perhaps one of the toughest I’ve seen is the story of Choi Sung-bong, a 22-year old homeless Korean man. With not much confidence and not much to suggest he would succeed, he stepped onto the stage to sing. Left in an orphanage when he was three years old, he ran away when he was five after having been beaten. He slept on the stairs of public buildings or in the public toilets. He sold gum on the streets and in night clubs … And one night, he heard someone sing. What he heard filled him with joy, and presented him with the possibility that just perhaps, he could sing, too.
Like the woman in the passage from Mark 7, our markets and our schools, our churches and the homes that line our streets are filled with people who long to hear “Yes”. Under the make-shift tents of the homeless on cold autumn evenings, in the late-night labs where scientists labor and the early morning practice rooms where musicians hone their skills, human beings long to hear “Yes” to their hopes and aspirations. Refugees yearn to hear “Yes” to their pleas for asylum.
Maybe that is why the talent shows are so popular. Maybe there is a part of us that wants to hear a resounding “Yes” to our hopes. Maybe there is a part of us that wants to shout “Yes !!” to children and students and the elderly and the sick and the lonely. The woman who came to Jesus had a daughter who struggled with a demon. She begged Jesus to set her daughter free. It took a bit of cajoling, but Jesus said “Yes!” to her.
She went home, and her daughter was free. May you be set free today. And may it be that because you have lived the “Yes” of the gospel that others are set free just because they know you and can count you as their friend.
A blessed Tuesday to you.