CHRISTMAS EVE
DECEMBER 24, 2020    

“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 bit more!’
And what happened then? Well…in Whoville they say,
That the Grinch’s small heart Grew three sizes that day!”

— Dr. Seuss (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1957)

OK, this might not be the “inspirational verses” that you were expecting for a Christmas Eve devotion, but in my house, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss, has become its own holiday tradition! In fact, we make a point to watch the movie version (2000) starring Jim Carrey every year. There is just something about his facial expressions and body movements that brings the big, green “mean one” to life like no one else could! But even more inspiring than the acting performance, I find this story to be a beautiful tale of transformation, reconciliation, and even redemption. I encourage you to watch the movie. But in case you have not, here is a brief summary.

The Grinch lives on Mt. Crumpet, overlooking the little town of Whoville. The population of Whoville (known as “the Whos”) LOVES Christmas, and they do it BIG with lots of “toys,” and children making lots of “noise,” a big “feast” where they eat a “Who-beast” and even more “singing” and Christmas bells “ringing!” The Scrooge-like Grinch hates everything about Christmas, mainly because, we are told, his heart is “three sizes too small!” So, one winter, the Grinch decides to stop Christmas, breaks into every house in the town of Whoville, and steals all the gifts, Christmas goodies, and decorations.

Now, at this point, you may be thinking that the Grinch doesn’t have too much in the way of redeemable qualities. Then, near the end of the story, the Grinch has taken the entirety of his ill-gotten Christmas plunder to the top of Mt. Crumpet to destroy it by dumping it down the mountain, causing immense Who-pain and sadness. Just as his evil plan is about to reach its inevitable conclusion, he pauses to listen for, and bask in, the cries and wailing of the Whos’ despair. As the Whos convene at the town square to figure out what had happened to Christmas, Cindy Lou Who comes to a very timely understanding that there is more to Christmas than all of the “trappings.” This leads the Whos not to cry, but rather to join together and burst out in song, which is what the unsuspecting Grinch ends up hearing during his “pause.” This confuses the Grinch and sends him on a soul-searching moment of introspection. That moment is when he says the lines found above (and permanently etched into my heart): “Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more…,” followed by a threefold growth of his own undersized heart!

I feel like this year, of all the Christmases that I have experienced, will be the most challenging in terms of maintaining meaningful traditions, gathering with friends and family, and finding some sort of normalcy. It is as if a GIANT, Grinch-shaped, COVID Pandemic has come to steal our Christmas and test our established holiday way of life. The good news is that, just as Cindy Lou Who was able to reset the expectations for the little town of Whoville (and, in the process, transform the Grinch’s heart and turn a sad situation into a moment of community, peace, and joy), perhaps this year we, too, will have an opportunity to re-commit ourselves to the aspects of Christmas that truly matter. Perhaps we can find transformation, not because we have illuminated and adorned the outside of our homes with lots of lights and decorations, possibly putting us at odds with our neighbors. Our transformation originates from the light that comes from within our hearts which inspires us to reach out in compassion and serve our neighbors. Perhaps we can find reconciliation, not because we share a decadent meal together that puts us to sleep for the day and inspires us to get on a treadmill in the new year. Our reconciliation comes because we are awakened to the beauty that we all share in the same decadent love offered to us by our Creator and Savior which prompts us to build strong and lasting relationships.

Perhaps our redemption can’t be found in the gifts that are bought in a store and always seem to break or lose their luster by New Year’s. Our transformation is found in a babe in a manger in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago, who was Crucified on our behalf but still lives and gives our lives purpose! Maybe the very thing that frustrated the Grinch about Christmas was that the Whos had lost their way and began to worship only Christmas and not Christ. May all of our hearts grow this Christmas season as we seek the true meaning that sets us apart and fills us with love, joy, and peace!

From our family to yours…
Rodney, Martha Jo, Gracen, Daelyn, Deacon (and Charlie!) Denton

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Click here to see the complete 2020 Advent Devotional booklet.

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