Summary: Discover a new passion for Christmas and overcome Christmas anxiety.
Series: Discover Christ in Christmas
A Spirit to Engage
Matthew 2:3-8, 16
December 10, 2000
I. The Story of the Grinch: One of my favorite holiday shows is the cartoon classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The story revolves around an old, crusty, nasty, absolutely rotten character, the Grinch and how he hates Christmas. Specifically he hates the celebrations of the neighboring town of Whoville. So in typical Grinch fashion he devises a scheme to go into Whoville and steal Christmas right from under them. The Grinch then plans to disguise himself as Santa and go down to Whoville to steal all of their trimmings, toys and even their holiday roast beast. The Grinch follows his plan exactly and he goes into Whoville and steals every last trimming, tree, toy and roast beast. The Grinch piles everything on his sleigh and away he goes up to the top of Mount Crumpet to listen to the sound of crying in Whoville. As he listens for the Who’s to cry boo-hoo, he is surprised to hear the sound of their annual Christmas song rise above the hills from Whoville. He grabs his dog Max and says; “It came. Christmas came. It came without boxes. It came without presents or tags.” It is in this moment that the Grinch realizes that there must be something more to Christmas. The Grinch has a change of heart; he then saves the sleigh of stuff and returns to Whoville.
Can we learn something of value from this rotten character of the Grinch? I believe that we can.
II. Christmas comes not from stuff but from spirit
A. America has wrongly linked Christmas with commerce
1. We see Christmas with all the trimmings
a.) We get caught up in all of the gadgets and gizmos that make Christmas more noticeable
b.) There is nothing wrong with decorating and celebrating, as long as, it does not take the place of a true Christmas
2. We often forget that there is something more to Christmas
a.) Christmas is a season with rich traditions and deep meaning. It is one of the two greatest seasons in the life of the church!
b.) Christmas should be a season of spiritual revival. This is the time of year that Christ cannot be ignored!
c.) Christmas is not a time to kick back and relax but rather it is a time to be revived and refreshed by the power of God almighty!
B. America has lost the spirit of Christmas
1. Our society has created an empty Christmas
a.) We have removed Christ from Christmas. Thus, we have removed the hope of the season
b.) Christmas without Christ is nothing at all
1.) There is no reason to celebrate
2.) There is no reason to have hope
2. This opens the door for Christmas Anxiety
a.) We lose focus on our hope and our faith
b.) We enter into a self sufficient state of living
c.) What is Christmas anxiety?
THREE STAGES OF CHRISTMAS ANXIETY
I. The Agitation Stage (Verse 3)
A. Herod becomes agitated
1. Herod becomes disturbed by the Magi and their report
a.) Herod realized that there could be a threat to his power and position
1.) Herod spent his life in a quest for more power
2.) Herod was known for arranged marriages and arranged murders to climb the ladder of power
b.) Herod begins to feel threatened
1.) Herod squashed each and every threat to his power. In one case he had the entire Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, assassinated
2.) Herod even killed one of his wives and two of his sons to retain power
2. Herod exhibits his true character
a.) Herod was willing to do anything it took to gain more power
1.) He plotted, schemed and murdered his way to the top of the chain
2.) Herod was indeed a bloodthirsty and evil ruler
b.) Herod was willing to do everything it took to keep the power he had gained
B. We too become agitated
1. We are not agitated over personal power but rather personal control
a.) It is easy to become agitated during the holidays
1.) Shopping becomes close to war-like
2.) Traffic is always tied up
3.) Life becomes filled with headaches
b.) Nothing seems to go as planned
1.) We seem to live by Murphy’s Law – if anything can go wrong it will
2.) Even the best planned activities are disrupted by something
2. Life is not in your control but rather in God’s hands
a.) The sooner we realize this fact the better off we will be
b.) God cannot lead if you are fighting Him for control
II. The Anxious Stage (Verses 4-8)
A. Herod becomes anxious
1. Herod examines the evidence
a.) Herod calls together the scribes and chief priests