Summary: Adapted from another sermoncentral sermon, this reinterpretation of "The Grinch who stole Christmas" Movie and Dr Seuss book encourages us to look for the real meaning of Christmas. Given at Midnight Mass 2000
In the name of the living, incarnate God, +Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Everyone down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot…
But the Grinch, did not!
The Grinch hated Christmas!
The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why.
No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
The latest must-see Movie this Christmas is based on a Children’s book by Dr Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The film stars Jim Carrey.
You may have seen it yourself, or your children or grandchildren may have mentioned it or you may (God forbid!) have read the book.
For those of you who don’t know, the Grinch is one of those marvellously silly Dr Seuss creations.
The Grinch attempts to ruin Christmas in the local town by making off with all the paraphernalia which he believes makes up Christmas: presents, food, wrappings and even log fires.
I want to look tonight at the miracle of Christmas through the eyes of this children’s story, for the story of the Grinch has much more to teach us adults.
It teaches us that:
Some people Hate Christmas.
Hate is a strong word, and yet there are some people just like the Grinch. They hate Christmas because all they see if rampant consumerism and gluttony; they resent sending Christmas Cards to people they woudn’t normally cross the road to speak to.
Have you noticed how people are trying to take the Christ out of Christmas, to try to remove the reason for the season. I suspect that they do this because they cannot face the true meaning of Christmas: and because they hide behind an empty chorus of ‘Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards men’, they find they have to hate it.
Hatred can bear bitter roots. It can prevent people from attaining their true, God-given potential because they become consumed with the hate which has taken root.
King Herod was such a consumed person. When Herod heard about the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, he became consumed with hatred toward someone he had never met.
Hatred, if left untended, will affect everything around it. Herod failed to see the true meaning of Christmas and saw it as a threat to his fragile, puppet kingdom; his rage caused the meaningless death of all the children under two born in Bethlehem: the Holy Innocents whom we commemorate on the 28th December.
The Grinch hated, just as Herod hated, just as many hate: through not understanding. Herod saw Christ not as salvation, but as a political threat, the Grinch saw Christmas as simply a jolly for the people of Who-ville, and many see Christmas as an empty seasonal festival, devoid of all spirituality and the mystery of the incarnation.
The message of the angels to the shepherds on the hillsides was not supposed to be an empty token gesture, but a joyful outpouring of God’s love for us all: a love that spills from Christ out to each of us, and has the potential to infect everyone: infect for the good.
Still, the Grinch remained unmoved by this good news:
They’re hanging their stockings!
He snarled with a sneer.
Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
‘I must find some way to stop Christmas from coming.’
So the Grinch decided to play a cruel trick on the people of Who-ville, and to steal their Christmas: lock stock and barrel, to play a sort of perverse, reverse Santa Claus and come down the chimney to take all the food and the presents and leave them with nothing
For all of us, we can find our Christmas stolen from us. Families force themselves together without resolving differences, different parents vie for attention with the best presents. We can get so wrapped up in the unwrapping of presents, the cooking of Turkeys and trying to be nice to Auntie Maureen once a year, that we allow the real Christmas to be stolen away from underneath our noses, for we look at the event rather than the cause of the event.
The story of the Grinch can teach us also that:
Some People Misunderstand Christmas.
The Grinch misunderstood. We have three children, and as I am sure many of you will have experienced, shopping in Toy’s R Us is not the most gratifying, or even stress-free experience. What is painfully clear is that the shopping centres and stores and most of their customers have all misunderstood Christmas.
They have become so busy with their pursuit of money, that even the decorations they display show their ignorance for the season: Jesus has been replaced with Santa, shepherds and sheep with reindeer and elves. Look in the shops for Christmas cards these days and you’d think they’d managed to totally remove the Christ from Christmas. Santas, Snowmen, Parties, Raindeer and Robins in little branches: Christmas has become just another spending opportunity.