One of my favorite Christmas stories is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We all know the story. The Grinch over the years has grown tired of the Whoville’s celebration of Christmas. The Whovillians’ gift giving, laughter, eating, and decorating irritated him. He especially could not stand to hear the singing of the Whovillians on Christmas day. To eliminate this problem, he decided to steal Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the Grinch took everything belonging to the Whovillians representing Christmas, i.e., trees, decorations, food, and gifts.
Once he returned to his cave, he could not wait until the next morning to hear only silence in Whoville. To his surprise, the people of Whoville were singing joyously. The truth is no one can steal Christmas. Christmas is not something that can be purchased at Walmart or put on lay-away at K-Mart. Christmas is something that happens on the inside. The Grinch can steal Christmas if we let him. The Grinch can put a stop to our singing if we let him. The Grinch can steal our joy if we let him.
When the Israelites were struggling in exile, the psalmist asked this question, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” Psalm 137:14, NRSV. We ask ourselves the same question when the Grinch, the devil, comes into our lives like a burglar and rips us off. The Grinch attacks our money, our families, our sanity, and can have us thinking that we are in a foreign land, far away from God. How can we still sing our song in the midst of disappointment, hurt, struggle, and letdowns? We can still sing our song, because Christmas is not something that happens; because it’s December; or because of a man named Santa Clause comes down the chimney.
Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ and God’s love for the world—and the hope, faith, and expectation that all derive from believing in the power of grace. The psalmist is not talking about song that comes from vocal chords. The psalmist is really asking how can I still believe, have faith in a place where I feel separated from God? The truth is nothing can separate us from the love of God, and we can still sing our song. Because as long as God exists, there is still hope and a reason to sing. We do not sing because of Christmas trees, mistletoe, hams, greens, or gifts. We sing because of the joy of knowing that whatever attacks our faith, God is greater. God’s gift to the world, Jesus Christ, gives us a reason to sing. The songwriter said it best: “I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I am free. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”