How to share about the wonderful, overwhelming Truth of Christmas? Well, one of my favorite (and I think very important) theologians of the mid-20th century, Theodor Geisel, wrote a magnificent short treatise on the meaning of Christmas: How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Yes, Theodor Greisel’s pen name is Dr. Suess (in fact, Suess is his middle name).
Why would someone want to steal the joy of Christmas from those around them? Well, according to this story, the Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small. I wonder how it got to be that way. What shrinks the heart? I believe that the coldness and callousness of the world can have this effect on folk. The world’s selfishness, bigoty, greed, hate...the list is longer, has the power to diminish. These attributes of the world can “shrink” our hearts. Also, the grinch is outside of community. The Grinch lives “Just north of Whoville”, alone in a cave up on a mountain. When we are separated from community and relationship, again, it can “shrink” our hearts.
So, as we know in the story, after stealing all the presents and trappings of the season, the Grinch discovers he hasn’t stolen Christmas – that it’s impossible to steal Christmas! Expecting cries and wails from the Whos; “all the Whos down in Whoville were singing – without any presents at all!” There he is on a rocky out-crop: “And the Grinch, with his Grinch feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, How could it be so?”
The True meaning of Christmas is demonstrated in the celebration of the Whos who sing joyfully, gathered together in the town square (circle) singing a song of welcome to Christmas. As the story reads; “He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming, it came! Somehow or other it came just the same!" The Truth of God’s love for all the peoples of the earth cannot be stopped. Even in the midst of crisis, confusion, chaos, strife, and brokenness – The gift of Emmanuel (Literally God-with-us) breaks through to restore us to Godself and each other. Love overcomes and God is not thwarted!
And what can this mean for hearts shrunken by the world’s coldness and callousness? Well...”And then the true meaning of Christmas came through”. God’s love and God’s good news breaks through to our hearts and minds! Our souls are rejuvenated in God’s grace! Shrunken hearts are liberated and given increase to become even more!
And there’s more! Not only does the Grinches heart grow THREE sizes that day – the day He discovers Christmas, but...”then the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!” We can find new strength to overcome the brokenness of the world! We can live and work in ways that share the joy of God’s love and restore, reconcile, renew, and revive this world that God so loves! We can be a part of the healing and redeeming work! And what does this changed Grinch do? He brings back that which he stole – a restorative act that brings him into community where he isreceived in grace and embraced as part of it! “And he, he himself, the Grinch carved the roast beast!!” We also can find new strength and power we didn’t know we have/ had to bring and make restorative change in the world!!
May we seek to know and share the true meaning of Christmas. May we gather at the manger and receive this divine gift of God’s unconditional, unlimited, unovercomable (yes, it’s a real word – if not, it should be) love.
May you, your family, friends, and all loved ones have the merriest and a blessed Christmas! Joy to the world...for unto each and all...a way of salvation!
Be God’s, Pastor Jim