You know that belly-laugh you get sometimes? It feels really, really good when that happens. Tonight I got to see Jacob having that, and it almost happened to me just by watching him. He was watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” – of course, the Jim Carrey version – and was laughing amazingly. One of the funniest spots to him was when Max – the Grinch’s dog – jumps up and clinches his teeth into Grinch’s tail… he squirms and grimaces as only Jim Carrey can, and screams, MAX! That is not a chew toy! If we had Tivo Jacob would want to see it 20 more times!
This is a beautiful time of year. There’s a gang at work that wanted to do something different this year in stead of swapping gifts, and they contributed quite a few $$ to the local boy’s home in Nashville. The thought has occurred to me a number of times recently – as I’ve come across several Scrooges – that the spirit of giving is what the season is all about. It is the warmth of family, the kindness of self-less giving to others, and the realization that things are new during this season.
I didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas as a Holy day. I now can’t help but reflect on the meaning behind the day. The “whovenile delinquents” in Jim Carrey’s “Grinch” were ones who GOT IT. They do not allude to Christ in the film; after all, it’s a feel-good happy story of an ugly creep who was spoiled in his youth against Christmas, and how he’s redeemed by the heart of a little girl. But the thing that appeals to me more and more in the last few weeks, is that in Christ’s birth, the beautiful story of the ages is brought to fruition. The virgin mother child herself bearing the savior of mankind, and giving us “second birth” as the song says… that is the beauty of the Christmas story!
The Grinch was redeemed in the end of the story… but not by Jesus. It’s interesting; the Grinch brought back the gifts he had stolen from the Who’s in Whoville, and he finally understood that it was about kindness and warmth because of something greater than yourself. The 3 gifts to the Great King were Gold – the bounty of Kings, Frankencense – a costly spice that is used by royalty, and Myrrh. As Dan Melear said this past Sunday… Myrrh doesn’t fit. It’s the same root word in Hebrew as “Marah” – or bitter waters. It’s the spice/ointment they used for embalming bodies in that time. It was a bitter herb’ish type ointment or spice, depending on its form, meant to cover up the stench of death.
Embalming Fluid as a gift for the Savior of all Mankind upon his birth? Come on! …yet could there be anything more appropriate? I don’t know all of the history of the socio-economic value of Myrrh in that ancient world, but I know that it was used in the burial of Jesus’ body. 2 of the 3 gifts were the gifts of Kings. The third was perhaps prophetic of the greatest gift he would offer mankind; his own self. His own body in our stead. His own legacy of kindness, compassion, love, truth, and his own legacy of setting the standard. the Anointed One was the epitome of hermeneutics. He defines what our interpretation should be. Love, kindness, compassion, mercy, truth, and obedience. If we “get” that… maybe we would start to see Christmas in a little bit different light. I’ll close with my favorite Christmas hymn’s lyrics from the 15th Century:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.