Transformation in Whoville

One of my favorite Advent/Christmas rituals is watching the Christmas classic that I think bestSend a card to friends and loved ones mirrors the truth of the Gospel story: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.

The goal of the Grinch is to steal Christmas from the whole town, and he cheers himself with the thought of their crying and wailing on Christmas morning. So he sneaks into town and steals everything associated with Christmas. Then he hauls the whole lot up to the top of a high mountain to dump it.

Just before the deed, he stops to listen for the sounds of misery.  But, to his bewilderment, the Grinch hears the sounds of joy as Christmas carols rise into the air, proclaiming the arrival of Christmas.

He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming, it came.
Somehow or other, it came just the same.

This is the thing that transforms the Grinch: the realization that Christmas itself was higher and deeper and more mysterious than all its trimmings. And the Grinch's heart—which had been too small for anything but himself—grew to encompass the world.

There's only one other Christmas classic I know of that sends that message. It proclaims, "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Both the Grinch and the Gospel report that no one can steal Christmas. No matter how nasty you are, you can't take it away; and no matter how poor and weak you are, no one can take it from you. Christmas will come anyway. It won't matter if you don't have a Christmas tree or even a job. It won't matter if there are no presents, no food and no fire. You can be with others or alone. Christmas can't be stolen and it can't be stopped. Christ will be born.

To that all I can say is, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” 

This reflection is based on a sermon by Anne Robertson, which is also titled Transformation in Whoville. For information about Anne Robertson's books and access to additional sermons, visit her website. Copyright ©2010 Anne Robertson.