How the Christ Stole Grinchmas

Life Notes—December 19, 2013 

  “He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more! And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!”  Excerpt from How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I need to buy gifts, but the stores are crowded. I need to write and send Christmas cards, but time is short. I need to send packages to loved ones far away, but have you seen the lines at the Post Office? Christmas is only days away. How can I possibly be ready in time? I imagine all the people I am about to disappoint, including myself. The expectations are simply too high. It is enough to make one’s heart shrink three sizes. It is enough to make a person Grinch-like.

In the Dr. Seuss book-made-movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch looks down with scorn on the people of Whoville as they prepare for Christmas. He sees the joy of family gatherings, and he scowls at the festive preparations. He hears the voices singing their traditional songs. He smells the wonderful foods being prepared for the feast. He senses the excitement building, with the presents and decorated trees and lights. However, the Grinch is on the outside, looking down on the celebration. There is no joy, no fellowship, and no love on the outside. The Grinch devises a plan to steal Christmas from the people of Whoville. He sneaks into town, takes all the presents, food, and decorations, and watches to see the misery he has created. Of course, there is no misery in Whoville, because Christmas is not about the presents, food, and decorations. Christmas comes without all the fluff, and the Grinch learns the true meaning of Christmas is in relationships, and in the birth of a Savior.

It is easy to focus on the wrong things in this season. When we do, we risk turning Christmas into Grinchmas. We find ourselves on the outside looking in, jealously, at those who successfully internalize the joy of the season. When we find ourselves in Grinchmas, we feel alone, stressed, and bitter. Jesus Christ, the reason for the season, wants to steal that from us; and he will, if we let him. However, we must first let go of the stress and latch on to the joy. Christ will do the rest.

Come home to church this Sunday. Get the Grinch out of your Christmas.

Greg Hildenbrand

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