Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What If Christmas Means More?

He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came with out 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!”

-Dr. Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas
As incredible as it may seem, a manger is where Christmas CAME! The God of the universe came to earth—to a cold and solitary cave and was born as a tiny, helpless infant. How could it be so?
My task is not to explain it, but to take it into my heart. The more I do, the more I discern the heart of God.
Here’s the lesson for me: That God loves us enough to share our brokenness, weariness, worry and sorrow. He clothed himself in mortal flesh "that so, he might be weak enough to suffer woe" (John Donne). He was and has always been, as one of Israel's prophets put it, “acquainted with grief." 
The world is steeped in sadness these days. Despite the season that promises great joy there is little that comforts and satisfies us. Poet Mathew Arnold was right: "And the world, which seems / To lie before us like a land of dreams, / So various, so beautiful, so new, / Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, / Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; / And we are here as on a darkling plain..." —Dover Beach
Ribbons and tags, packages, boxes and bags can never dispel that sorrow, nor can they heal our broken hearts.
We know that's true; it's a simple and undeniable fact, empirically verified every Christmas. We've all tasted the sadness that descends upon us when the holidays are over and everything is done. Life again becomes "dukkha," as Buddhists say, painful, disjointed and unhappy.
But what if the Grinch was right? What if Christmas doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more? What if it means that God loves you—you, the one reading these lines.
Indeed, God does love you like you wouldn’t believe. He loved you before you were born; he loves you now; he will love you after you die. He has "appeared...from afar saying, 'I have loved you with everlasting love'" (Jeremiah 31:3).
Human love has reasons to love—wealth, beauty, intelligence or other attributes that make love's object loveable and desirable. But divine love is not based on merit or distinction. God loves you, not merely because you are yourself, but because he is himself: "God is Love" (John 4:8,16). Philosopher Peter Kreeft argues that God cannot answer the question, "Why do I love thee?" He can only say, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."
One measure of that love is the Crib where God, for our sake, become a wee bairn—the final proof that he loves us as no other.
Why, then, are there no crèches these days? Why do we try so hard to avoid the mystery of God's amazing grace when it is so simple and so blindingly clear? Why are we so afraid of His three little words: "I love you"?
You are God's beloved. Why not tell him, "I love you, too."

No comments:

Hunky-Dory? Life is not always "hunky-dory," as David Bowie and my father would say. Jesus agrees: "I did not come to br...