“Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then the true meaning of Christmas came though, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches plus two.”
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
So it’s here again. Christmas time is here. So let’s crank up that Bing Crosby or the Micheal Buble version of “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Like it or not, it’s here. Even with all the online shopping and the Covid problem, the stores will still be bustling with masked people this year searching for that one gift that their loved one can’t live without.
This time of year is so different from all the others. There is just something about Christmas. All the stores and city streets are decorated with Christmas cheer. You see it everywhere you go. Driving in the neighborhoods you see it as well. The neighborhoods turn into a competition for the unspoken champion of the light displays. From the simple blow up Santa and reindeer to the full fledged computer generated, syncopated light and music extravaganza. The cars driving down the road with the Christmas trees securely tied to the roof. The conversation in the car goes something like this, “Oh I’m sure this huge tree is not too big for our living room.” The families get home and try not to fight over how to properly decorate the newly purchased tree. Ah…. Christmas.
But wait, what about Jesus? Did we forget about Jesus? My conclusion in the past was to get angry about the “commercialization” of Christmas. Santa, the reindeer, the lights, decorations, the trees, and the gifts, what does all this have to do with the birth of the Savior of the world? I used to get so mad about it, but much like the Grinch I have had a change of heart. Now I look at it quite differently. Do I wish there would be a greater demonstration of the birth of Jesus? Of course I do. That would be nice for sure, but maybe I could look at it all in a different way. My realization came while shopping in a store one Christmas. I was looking for a gift for my wife when I realized I was hearing “Silent Night” playing on the speakers throughout the store. I stopped and listened to the words and was reminded in the middle of that store decorated with Santa and the elves, Christmas trees and twinkling lights, the reason why everything was decorated was to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Maybe no one in that store had that realization, but I did. In that moment I made up my mind to look at all the decorations differently. I could get mad or I could use all of the fanfare of the Christmas season to remind me of why Christmas is important to me.
And there were shepherds residing in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. Just then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord! And this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Now I enjoy the season in a new and profound way. Whenever I see all the twinkling lights I think about Jesus being the light of the world and how He shines His light into my own darkness. When I see the Christmas tree, I think of the life of God that I have in me because of what happened in that little town of Bethlehem. When I receive that gift from a loved one I think of the ultimate gift from the One who loves me the most. When I hear “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” I think of the joy that is in my heart because of God’s great love for me. I know this could sound a bit sappy, but couldn’t 2020 use a little bit of sappiness? It is all in the way we look at it. We have to be careful that we don’t just develop that critical heart about everything. We can use what we see around us to make us mad or we can use it to bring joy to our hearts. I choose joy. What about you? The challenge as we approach this Christmas season is to choose to let the decorations remind you of the real “reason for the season.” I choose to think about it like this. All these people decorated their houses, stores, and city streets, so I could be reminded of the most important event in human history. God loved me so much that He sent Jesus to provide salvation to me for all of my wrong I have done. I didn’t deserve it but God did it anyway. That is what Christmas means to me and through that lens I choose to see everything else. Let this Christmas season be different. Let’s be reminded in all that we see that God still loves us. I challenge you the next time you hear a faith filled Christmas song this year, stop and take note. Maybe God is trying to get your attention to help you remember. Maybe like God did for my Grinch heart that day, your heart will grow three sizes too.
Ahh.. Christmas, It is truly the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.