Summary: No one can take Christmas from us because it is a gift of God. The Word has become flesh and has come to live among us.
The Grinch Really Didn’t Steal Christmas
Christmas Day, 2005
There was once this fellow called Grinch and Grinch hated Christmas. He disliked the whole season so much that one year he decided that he would do all he could to stop it. He decided to steal all of the packages, trees, foods, treats, and trimmings that go with the season from the people of Who-ville. So, while the people were sleeping, he went out and took everything, certain that Christmas would not come.
The Grinch woke up the next morning and couldn’t understand what was happening. People were singing and dancing and rejoicing. And only Dr. Suess could put it this way.
And the Grinch with his Grinch feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling: How could this be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. And he puzzled three hours, 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 more!
It seems that there is always someone trying to steal Christmas from us. How many Grinches have you noticed this season? There are many – perhaps too many – to name. We don’t like to talk about them because they represent the darker side of humanness. Nevertheless, they are there.
Some Grinches come in the form of Herod, who was so afraid of losing his throne that he sent his soldiers on a killing rampage, destroying all of the boy babies in the area of Bethlehem in order to try to kill the One born to be king.
Some Grinches are in the form of the monstrous atrocities brought into our living rooms each night on the evening news.
Some are in the form of the grinding poverty and hunger that afflict people around the globe and even in our own city.
Some grinches are in the form of terrorists who blow up themselves and countless innocents in order to make a political statement.
There are a thousand other people, situations, and movements that threaten our peace: Grinches galore who will try to steal our Christmas. But John, the writer of our gospel, breaks into our fear, into our violent world, into our apathy, into our brokenness – and assures us that such darkness will not overcome the light and the brightness of Wisdom, of the Word, of the Son of God.
John preaches that the Word has been made flesh. Think about that for a minute. The Word, God, has been made flesh. When you do, it is not hard to understand why the Greeks thought that this story was a whole lot of foolishness. The Word of God made flesh, indeed!
I remember early Monday morning on October 13, 1980. It was about 2:30 am and Toni sat straight up in bed and made that announcement. “I think it is time to go to the hospital.”
Now we had been through all of the prenatal classes and the birthing classes. We each knew exactly what was happening. We knew the schedule. We had been to the hospital to check out the facilities. We were calm, cool, and collected. I jumped out of bed, rushed out the bedroom door and said, “You pack the doctor and I’ll call the suitcase!”
About eight hours later, I witnessed the birth of our first son. He looked pretty much like all of those other babies that I had seen in the films. He was wrinkled and red. He didn’t have any teeth. He had this white gooey stuff all over him. He was a little bloody. He was so fragile.
John says that the Word became flesh. The Word of God was born as a human baby and looked a whole lot like this. Can this be God? No wonder the intellectuals of that day thought they must be crazy.
Six days later, Toni and Matthew and I traveled up to Greeley, Colorado with our friends Pete and Marsha. Pete was on the staff First United Methodist Church in Greeley and was scheduled to preach that day. I still remember the sermon he preached. It was titled, “A Peanut in Yankee Stadium.” He asked this question. “Have you ever felt so insignificant, so trivial, so small, of so little value, that you thought it didn’t really matter if you existed at all?”
He told about going to a ball game in Yankee Stadium when, looking down, he saw a peanut at his feet – unnoticeable in the vastness of that great stadium. How often do we feel like that? Yet Christ came into the world and found a place among all of the insignificant people and unimportant things. He was born along the back roads of the Roman Empire, in a stinky smelly barn, of peasant parents. He was born of flesh and blood; wrinkled, sticky, bloody, and so very fragile.