Summary: Sometimes Christmas can lead to the blues. What do we do when Christmas does not feel like Christmas.
Title: When The Grinch Steals Christmas
Series: When God Breaks the Silence
Text: Luke 1:39-56 (NIV)
His plot was diabolical; his plan was simple. He would stop Christmas from coming. He no longer wanted to hear the whos in whoville celebrating. So the Grinch dresses up like Santa Clause, places fake antlers on his dog’s head, and heads down from his mountain home. He sneaks into each of the homes in Whoville and begins to steal everything that resembles Christmas.
Toys and decorations; lights and trees; he even goes as far as to steal the Roast Beast. Gifts and candy he takes the whole lot. Not an ornament, not a toy, not a crumb he forgot.
Do you remember how the story goes? The Grinch reaches his mountain top home and he thinks he will hear crying. Instead, what he hears surprises him. The citizens of Whoville have gathered in the town square, from biggest to small, and have joined hands in singing.
I’ll let Dr. Seuss take it from here.
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
How can it be so? The Grinch had stolen everything that looked, smelled, tasted, or felt like Christmas. It shouldn’t feel like Christmas. I read the story or watch it on video and I often wonder how I would react if the Grinch stole my Christmas. Would Christmas feel like Christmas?
Have you ever had a time when Christmas did not feel like Christmas? What happens when the Christmas season doesn’t feel so special? What happens when we want to be around the family and they can’t (or won’t) come around; what happens when a loved one is gone and the house feels empty? What happens when times are tight and there aren’t gifts piled under the tree; what happens when the music doesn’t lighten the mood; when the decorations and lights seem drab. What happens when the atmosphere surrounding Christmas gets sucked away and Christmas doesn’t’ feel like Christmas anymore?
Sometimes it feels like the Grinch has stolen Christmas. Have you ever longed to have that song of Christmas restored in your soul? What does that look like? How do we accomplish that during the busy, often hectic season we call Christmas? Let’s explore this question today as we look at our text. (Luke 1:39-56)
Mary has been visited by an angel and told she will conceive a child even while she is a virgin. She responds to God with these words, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
Last week, we learned the same angel visits her fiancé Joseph and tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The child to be born will be special. He is to remain in the picture.
This week the text begins,
Luke 1:39-40 (NIV)
“39 At that time… (What time? After Mary had conceived Jesus through the power of the H.S.)
…Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.
It is apparent that Mary is anxious to see her relative Elizabeth. She has learned from the angel Gabriel that Elizabeth even in her old age is expecting a child too. And Mary hurries to see her.
I think the visit is prompted by two reasons. First, I think Mary went to help Elizabeth with chores around the house. After all, Elizabeth is elderly and is now under the additional stress of being pregnant. Second, Mary is pregnant herself and unmarried. I think the extended stay with Elizabeth is meant to protect Mary from backlash from people in her own village.
Listen what happens next.
Luke 1:41 (NIV)
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
This is the Holy Spirit speaking through Elizabeth. Before Elizabeth can speak for herself, the H.S. causes the baby in Elizabeth’s womb to leap with joy. And Elizabeth loudly proclaims a blessing on Mary. It’s not a mumbled message. These words are special. It almost seems like the Holy Spirit does not want those present to miss it.
So the text says,
42 In a loud voice she (Elizabeth) exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!
(Slide: I. Celebrating a deeper Blessing)
It’s a blessing. This visit is met with an immediate blessing. Elizabeth through Mary focuses on the blessing. It may sound like a Hallmark greeting, but to a Jew a blessing would be important. This is deeper than words and heart felt sentiments. To a Jew a blessing was often a legally binding part of the inheritance. Mary would not have seen this as a greeting card of words. The words would have much more meaning than that. We should also remember that these are words the Holy Spirit are speaking through Elizabeth. The blessing is to be celebrated.