Yesterday I drove to Lynnfield’s MarketStreet with two gifts in mind. MarketStreet’s a unique collection of shops and restaurants, unlike enclosed malls. While different, I didn’t expect a sermon. As I approached the first rotary, a single blinking sign, BELIEVE, “preached.” Granted, at noontime the lights didn’t dazzle but BELIEVE lit something inside me.
Fresh from teaching a Sunday School class, the day before, with the Grinch as part of my theme, I knew better than to BELIEVE Christmas came from a store. Remember how the Grinch, who lives just north of Whoville, hates Christmas. While the Whos love the whole Christmas season. So he decides to rob the town of its JOY and anything smacking of Christmas. Full of vim and vinegar, he figures all he has to do is sneak about while the Whos are fast asleep on Christmas Eve and haul off their presents, feasts, trees and any trappings of Christmas. And he does just that. Nothing’s left. Nada! Zippo!
But come Christmas morning, while the Grinch perches precariously atop Mount Crumpit, sleigh bloated with stolen goods, he listens expectantly for the boohooing of the Whos. But not a sob’s around. Instead he hears singing. And they’re holding hands, not wringing them! They act like the trimmings and trappings are just that. Stuff. Not the heart of Christmas.
Well, you’ve gotta believe this messed with the Grinch’s mindset on the meaning of Christmas and life. His, in particular. Then Dr. Seuss’s beloved story recounts how the Grinch puzzled “until his puzzler was sore. And then he thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.”
And perhaps that’s why Bethlehem beckons still. We know there’s gotta be more to Christmas. And life. Even just “a little bit more.” Start with a baby-sized gift. Jesus. And, if we’re willing, maybe this season of Advent can become a time to “puzzle until our puzzlers are sore.” To slowdown and ask some questions, starting with Who? What? When? Where? and Why? Questions about the Christmas story, and our stories, as well.
Well, God only knows, how much What and Who we BELIEVE matters. If we risk believing before seeing, faith-ing before knowing, we just may find ourselves singing, instead of sobbing. And holding hands with folks we’ve distanced ourselves from for too long.
No wonder Bethlehem beckons.
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