The Power of Faith at Christmas
1st December 2022
“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more…”
(Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas“)
HOM: Responding with awe and wonder
When Theodor ‘Dr Seuss’ Geisel wrote his book ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ in 1957, he did so to make readers think about the true meaning of Christmas. Critical of the commercialisation of America’s idea of Christmas, Dr Seuss told the story to illustrate how ‘Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.’
In some ways the Grinch resembles Charles Dickens’ Scrooge. He is a grouchy solitary creature who believes Christmas is ‘humbug’ but who has an ‘epiphany’ on seeing that there is a spirit to Christmas that is not undone even though he has stolen all the Whos’ presents, decorations and food. They are still very much enjoying Christmas and so miraculously, the Grinch realizes that Christmas is not all about money and presents, causing his shrunken heart to grow three sizes larger. The reformed Grinch returns the Whos’ presents and food, and is allowed to take part in their Christmas feast.
If anything, the commercialization of Christmas has intensified since Dr Seuss wrote the Grinch so it still has a message to be heeded. And in an increasingly secular society (in Britain at least) it can be hard to find meaning beyond what ‘comes from a store’. That’s why reminding ourselves of the origins of Christmas is so important for the secular as well as the religious.
It is a story of abundant love (God’s grace), hospitality and hope. It is also a story of reversals in which power is found to reside not in the pomp and circumstance of a palace but in a humble stable and a new born baby, a symbol of what is most vulnerable and powerless.
This is a radical image which challenges us all to reappraise our priorities and to look more to what we can give than receive. It is a message that has resonated down the ages and continues to embody the spirit of Christmas which brought about an ‘epiphany’ in the Grinch’s outlook and life.
Perhaps we too can experience the epiphany which awaits us, if only we open our eyes to see.
Happy Christmas everyone!