Friday, December 13, 2013

Don't Let the Grinch Steal Your Christmas

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico
   While cleaning the other night, I stopped for a moment in sheer frustration of all that I need to accomplish before Christmas morning.  I have gifts to wrap, cards to write, floors to clean and food to purchase.  Plus, there is a play to rehearse for this weekend and a gathering to attend.  The more I looked at the big picture the more I felt overwhelmed.  My husband reminded me that I needed to do what I could and let the rest go.  After all, he told me that this was not a critical issue.
     Listening to his words of wisdom, I calmed down as I thought about the Dr. Suess story, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".  Was I going to allow circumstances to overwhelm the joy of this season?  Remember the people of the imaginary town of "Whoville"?  They loved and celebrated Christmas each year with lots of decorations and gift giving.  The Grinch, who despised these happy people decided he would ruin their joy by stealing all their decorations and gifts.  However, he never suspected that when Christmas Day came the people of the town would still sing and celebrate the day.  It changed his heart as he heard them sing and he realized that Christmas was more than decorations or gifts.  Indeed, Christmas is much more than all the superficial things.
     Consider how Mary celebrated the news that she was to be the Mother of the Messiah.  She was unmarried at the time, quite young and faced with a society that could easily stone her for what appeared to be infidelity to her betrothal to Joseph.  She would also face a long, uncomfortable trip to Bethlehem on a donkey's back and then, give birth in a barn  This is what awaited her.  Not very attractive is it?  She could have shrunk back from the news which the angel gave to her.  Instead, Mary, in faith, saw the bigger picture.
     In Luke 1:46-55, we read Mary's Song of Praise to God called "The Magnificat":
     46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
     With this praise to God, Mary affirmed her belief that God was doing something much larger than her circumstances.  She realized that she was privileged to be a part of God's greater plan which would touch generation after generation.
     As I read her song of praise, I came to realize that God's plan and purpose for us is more than gift wrapping, cleaning and cooking.  Christmas comes whether we are fully ready or not; so like Mary, we need to begin to sing songs of praise rather than end our day in frustration over all the things we did not finish.  Tomorrow is another day, and worry is a sin.  When we keep our eyes on God, as Mary did, nothing can steal the joy of Christmas not even the Grinch!
     If your days are too full, stop.  Take a deep breath and begin to praise the God of our salvation.  It is His birthday that we celebrate and His salvation for all who call upon His name.  Nothing can be more important than that!  Selah!

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