Well, we have survived the beginning of another Christmas season! We have decked the halls, rocked around the Christmas tree and gone from Tennessee to Pennsylvania in search of homemade pumpkin pie. We have baked and cleaned and cooked and wrapped until we can’t see straight. We have endured long lines and short tempers, stops and starts with our online shopping, all trying to find the perfect Christmas gifts for everyone, placing additional stressors on our household budgets. We have put out the cookies for Santa, the carrots for the reindeer, and the elf-on-the-shelf is safe and sound. We have personally endured the twelve pains of Christmas! Has the Grinch Stolen Your Christmas?
We have sat up late at night working on tight budgets of time and money to make this year’s treats and events even more spectacular than last year’s. We have mastered exterior illumination. We have petitioned Santa baby for everything from a sable to a yacht, and we have come to hate those notorious words, “Some assembly required.” Has the Grinch Stolen Your Christmas?
We have been planning a white Christmas, a blue Christmas, a holly, jolly Christmas, or a rockin’ Christmas complete with all the bells and whistles. At this point in the game, maybe we are as excited as this guy [Michelle’s shirt] – and our kids are at the breaking point of waiting. Perhaps we are exhausted, stressed out, and NOT enjoying the season at all. Or perhaps we are in the midst of a great trial or loss or we find ourselves alone this Christmas, and we cannot find any joy in this season of joy. Sometimes the holiday season just seems to drag on while you can only hope for January 2 to arrive. Remember the line from that famous Christmas song, “…and Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again!” Has the Grinch Stolen Your Christmas?
It is easy to get a little bit sidetracked from what Christmas is all about. God has presented us with an incredible gift through the birth of God’s son Jesus. There were no parades or fanfare, no royal welcome. Just a humble couple in a lowly place bringing God’s blessing into this world.
Our scripture lesson talks about the shepherds in the fields receiving a visit from a score of angels. For all intents and purposes, shepherds were considered outcasts. They receive the message of the birth of the Messiah, the Holy One, but they are immediately given two clues that help them realize they too would be welcomed by this Holy Family. First, they are told they would find the babe wrapped in strips of cloth or swaddling cloths. I have seen some of the fancy gear for babies these days, and it is NOTHING like I had when my children were babies. The fact that they would find Jesus wrapped in strips of cloth told the shepherds he was not of wealth and status but of humble beginnings.
Second, the shepherds were told they would find the babe lying in a manger – a feeding trough for animals. The job of a shepherd required him to sleep outside with his flock. Because of this, shepherds were considered of the lowest class of society. But the fact that Jesus would be lying in a manger told them he too would be among animals; hence they, as shepherds, would be welcomed at the birth of the Prince of Peace. Clearly, Jesus’ arrival would do much to shake up the social order of his day. Heavenly hosts greeted the social outcasts of the world with the news of good tidings of Great Joy – not just good joy, GREAT JOY!
So how do we take back Christmas? We could stand in a circle and start singing, “Ba who, dories” – does anyone know what that means, anyway? In our own way, let us recapture our Joy. God did not abandon us to a world of hopelessness and despair – that is Great Joy. God provided a path to eternal life – that is Great Joy. God serves as our partner walking with us through the difficult times we encounter – that is Great Joy. We can count on God to give us strength, comfort, and endurance – that is Great Joy. The light of God has come to our dark world – That is Great Joy.
The immortal Dr. Seuss, aka Theodore Seuss Geisel, was born in 1904 on Howard Street in Springfield, Massachusetts. Ted’s mother, Henrietta Seuss Geisel, often soothed her children to sleep by “chanting” rhymes remembered from her youth. Ted credited his mother with both his ability and desire to create the rhymes for which he became so well known. His first book that he both wrote and illustrated was And to Think I saw it on Mulberry Street. Getting that book published required a great deal of persistence – it was rejected at least 27 times before finally being published by Vanguard Press and the rest, as they say, is history. By the time he died in 1991, Ted had written and illustrated 44 children’s books.
Dr. Seuss’ story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, talks about a town called Whoville, where all the citizens came together with much fanfare to celebrate Christmas every year. But the Grinch lived a bit north of town and hated Christmas. So the Grinch plotted to stop Christmas from coming by stealing all the presents, decorations, and food for their feast, including the rare Who roast beast. Just when the Grinch thought he succeeded, he hears the Whos’ singing and knows he failed. Hear these words of Dr. Seuss from his beloved book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. Maybe Christmas didn’t come from a store. Perhaps, just perhaps, Christmas means a little bit more.” That my friends is Great Joy!
There is a contemporary Christian song out by Amy Grant that says, “After this crazy day, I need a Silent Night.” Take a deep breath. Enjoy the season for which you have worked so hard to prepare. Be thankful to God for God’s gift to us – a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. When you can find that gift of peace and assurance awaiting you, then perhaps you, too, can “find the strength of 10 Grinches, plus 2!” Hear this final quote from the beloved Dr. Seuss: “Christmas day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas day will always be, just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.”
Merry Christmas! Amen.