Summary: No Grinch can take away the true meaning of Christmas, because Jesus was born for us! (uses refernces from Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas).
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas has always been a favorite of mine, but this year, it has also made quite a box office splash. In this annual Christmas story, the old Grinch who lives on a mountain has been annoyed by the merriment of the Who-ville townspeople at Christmas. According to Dr. Seuss, the Grinch’s heart is two sizes too small, so the Who-ville holiday decorations and celebrations disturb him. Most of all, he is deeply bothered by all the noise, Noise, NOISE of their Christmas morning festivities!
To counteract their Christmas joy, he takes all of their decorations, every last present, all their Christmas food, and every ounce of Christmas preparation that could be bundled up and taken away. The climax of the story (and I hope I’m not ruining it for those who are unfamiliar with the Grinch) is that on Christmas morning, as the sun is coming up, the Grinch looks down on Who-ville, hoping to see their Christmas day sorrow when they realize their Christmas things are gone. But before the Grinch can even slink back to his cave, the Who’s down in Who-ville start singing their Christmas music, joyously gathering together.
"Fa-who-for-ay; da-who-dor-ay; welcome, Christmas, come this way; fa…da…welcome, Christmas, Christmas day." They continue, singing, "Christmas day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp." The Grinch can hardly believe his ears. He begins to get furious, but then something happens. He suddenly puzzles how Christmas came. "It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags." Suddenly the Grinch realizes that Christmas is about more than presents, or decorations, or a feast. He has a thought he’s never thought before: "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn’t come from a store; Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more."
Although the story of the Grinch does not have baby Jesus or angels or wise men, Dr. Seuss has caught a sense of the true meaning of Christmas. The joy of Christmas is much more than any decorations, food, or presents. No matter what lights or trees or candles you have put up at your house, no matter what your Christmas dinner is, no matter what presents you unwrap tomorrow morning, nothing is more important than the message of baby Jesus and how God entered our world. Jesus’ birth is the reason we have a Christmas to celebrate at all.
The first Christmas in Bethlehem when Jesus was born did not have bells or ornaments or trees or stockings or decorations. Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be registered in the census. Because of all the travelers, the inns were full, and there was no room left for Mary and Joseph. Somehow they managed to find a place to rest in a stable, as the time grew closer for Mary to have her child. She gave birth to Jesus in the stable, and laid him in the manger, the animals’ feeding-trough. No Christmas lights, no fleece baby blankets, no chocolate cigars to celebrate the baby’s birth, no mother-in-laws visiting, no Jingle Bells or Santa Claus.
What really mattered on that first Christmas was the birth of baby Jesus. The angels told the shepherds that a Savior, the Messiah was born in Bethlehem. They weren’t told to bring a baby gift or a fancy present. They weren’t told to string lights up around their sheep or to buy a baby monitor for Jesus. They were simply told how and where to find him. That first Christmas was celebrated in an unlikely place, in an unlikely way. The Son of God was ushered into this world without so much as an indoor room to sleep in. He did not have an elaborate Christmas dinner or even a kitchen table, for that matter. But none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was the birth of that baby. No Grinch could take away the spectacular good news that was proclaimed on that first Christmas night!
And what was that good news? "To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord," the angels said. The good news at Christmas is that we have already received the one gift that truly matters. No matter what you unwrap tomorrow, or what hopes you have for those gifts, nothing can be more precious than the good news that God came in human flesh to our world. God wrapped himself in human flesh and dwelt among us out of love for us. God entered our world and our existence on that first Christmas night. God put on flesh and blood at Christmas and came to us in the baby Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem. You’re here tonight to celebrate that good news, and no matter what happens tomorrow, Jesus is real and came to us in the flesh.