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Sermon for Christmas Service
Carols by Candlelight 2002

Sermon preached by
The Revd Charles Royden

The Grinch hated Christmas! 
The whole Christmas season! 
Now, please don't ask why. 
No one quite knows the reason. 
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right 
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. 
But I think that the most likely reason of all 
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

Last Christmas I went out to the cinema and saw the film of the book 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' by Dr Seuss. The movie stars Jim Carey and is wonderful entertainment. 

Contained within the rhyming couplets of the book is great entertainment, but with a powerful message. The Grinch was a rather ugly looking character who lived in a cave on a mountain just north of and overlooking the town of Who-ville, which was inhabited by the Whos.

Those of you who have read the book or seen the film will remember that in the story the Grinch tried to stop Christmas from coming. How did he think he could do this?

On Christmas Eve, while the town was asleep, he went all over Who-ville. He loaded up a sleigh with his dog Max dressed up as a reindeer and he went to all of the houses and stole all of the presents in the people's homes. He also stole their trees and decorations and all the lovely food. He thought that if he could take away all the festive trappings, the presents, the ribbons, then Christmas would be unable to come.

But the Grinch was unable to prevent Christmas from coming. Try as he might to stop Christmas coming he could not. Even though they had lost their presents and food and all the special Christmassy things, nevertheless the Who's went out and joined hands and shared in singing and celebrating Christmas. The Who's could celebrate Christmas and sing and rejoice together, without 'things.'

Then we are told that all of a sudden something dawned upon the Grinch. I think that the story says it best

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, 
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?" 
"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!" 
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!" 
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!"

Maybe Christmas ... perhaps means a little bit more!

What does Christmas really mean?

It dawned upon the Grinch that Christmas meant so much more than just Christmassy things. Sure, we all enjoy our Christmassy things and we are all looking forward to our presents and special food. But Christmas does mean more.

Different cultures have different Christmas traditions, yet all their differences are bonded together by one aspect--love. The Grinch had hated the thought of everybody singing and eating and making the noises of Christmas. he disliked the thought of children playing with their new toys and the Whos gathered around the tree joyfully for Christmas Day. After ransacking Who-ville and stealing every bit of Christmas, the Grinch's tender moment happens when he realizes it is not about the noise, or the tree trimmings, or the "roast beast" feast, not even the blissful singing.

Christmas is about love and peace for humankind and sharing it with one another, not only on Christmas Day but everyday. For Christmas is a very special time, it is a season of the heart.

The Grinch hated Christmas because he had a small heart, but when his heart was exposed to the real message of Christmas it grew. In fact

in Who-ville they say, 
That the Grinch's small heart 
Grew three sizes that day

Those of you who know the story will remember the change that took place in the heart of the Grinch. He became a new person and his heart was changed. The result was that he took back to the Whos all of the things which he had taken from them and he shared in the real enjoyment of Christmas.

At Christmas time we enjoy our festive celebrations, but we too are exposed to a message so much more powerful than any ways which we have thought of to celebrate it.

The message is that God loves us, and it is visibly and simply expressed in the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem. As we gather tonight and sing our carols of Christmas, we remind ourselves how fortunate we are that we can tell once more this nativity story of the love of God. A love which we can share with others. We give thanks because we know that we are really truly blessed by what God does for us. Christ came to earth as the greatest gift of God's love for us and died for our sins. And so the Who's were right, Christmas is a time to give thanks and celebrate and sing, with or without the presents.

It is not about what we have to buy or get, but about exposing ourselves and others to the love of God. And when we do that our hearts, like the Grinch, will grow an extra few sizes.

Happy Christmas

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