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Advent Reflection – December 21st

December 21st, 2017 by Stephen Bauman

December 21st

Rev. Dr. Stephen Bauman

   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 and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store?
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?

– Dr. Seuss

How the Grinch Stole Christmas was, for what seemed an eternity, my toddler son’s favorite book. Every night he asked for the Grinch, then asked for it again, night after night, week after week. We mutilated several copies from over use. It became a bit of a game to see if I could manage to skip a page or two every now and then—but he would not have it! Every word on every page had to be read aloud, in order. Though I never tested him, I’m certain he knew it completely by heart.

And now, from a distance of 30 or so years, I’m thinking that wasn’t such a bad thing given the lesson the Grinch discovered at last. The repetition was painful for an overtired parent whose goal was bedtime, but now it seems our time was well spent.

With Christmas decorations and advertisements now proliferating immediately after Halloween amplified by a crushing secular commodification, perhaps we’ll agree that the good Dr.’s message wasn’t learned as well as it might have been. As I pass by the decorated windows at Bloomingdales accosted by vapid blasty music mush I wonder what value most people attach to the season. What do trees and decorations, splashy gifts and designer clothes, boozy parties and holiday hoopla amount to anyway?

The culture long ago vacated any sacred messaging at this time of year. That responsibility remains with candlelit churches that assert something of great importance is at stake, something worth a life’s desiring, something that was closer in meaning to my son sitting in an exhausted parent’s lap asking for yet one more rendition of a story he’s already heard a hundred times.

I like a good party, and I’m not opposed to giving and receiving a nice gift. But the Grinch’s question hangs in the balance: What if Christmas means a bit more…

Prayer: Holy God, help me hang on to the question. Please help me hang on to the question. Please help me hang on to the question…repeat… Amen.

Stephen Bauman

Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Bauman is the Senior Minister at Christ Church.