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Not Caught Up In The Holiday Spirit?

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Christmas Day is the day the Christian world celebrates the
Birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the compassionate teacher
Who brought to the world the message that
God is Love.

It is also the time of year for Chanukah celebration,
For the solstice and for Kwanzaa…and other celebrations

I found this online:

Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all; plus... A fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2000, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions have helped make our society great, without regard to the race, creed color, religious, or sexual preferences of the wishes.

Disclaimer: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring to those not caught up in the holiday spirit.
(Another version of this greeting here:
http://www.nightscribe.com/Entertainment/pc_holiday_greeting.htm)

"Not caught up in the holiday spirit" Makes me think of the Grinch.

Just before Christmas I rented and watched
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
And remembered the Grinch
Who was not at all caught up in the season.
It stressed him out.

Somehow this season is often accompanied by a lot of stress.
I had forgotten it was Christmas season and wet shopping for a vacuum cleaner.
It was frightening.
And then I remembered the pepper spraying shoppers I read about.
It wasn’t pretty.

And yet it is a season intended to celebrate
Community, Compassion, Spiritual Renewal and so on.

I got to thinking about the Grinch,
And the stress that he felt because of how much the people of Who-ville
Were enjoying the spirit of Christmas… which he hated…

You may already know the story
About how his reaction against the merriment of the season
Caused him to want to just squash it and destroy it
So he planned to steal Christmas
From the people of the village below where he lived

It is a great story about life
About not fitting in
About ruined expectations

And about surviving difficulties
When what is truly important
Is put before everything else.

To me the main thing in the story is this:
On Christmas morning
when the people of Who-vile woke up
and all of Christmas was stolen away?

If you recall,
they had prepared much like we are now…
Every who down in who-ville liked Christmas a lot....

They were totally ready in consciousness (metaphysicians say)
They expected Christmas to come
They were prepared
They had done all the work to welcome in Christmas.
But when they woke,
It had been stolen away by the Grinch.

It wasn’t fair It wasn’t nice It wasn’t expected
They had done nothing to deserve it.

That happens from time to time, doesn’t it?
I know what I do when that happens..
Sometimes I panic.
Sometimes I doubt myself
Sometimes I doubt that there can be any meaning to it all
Sometimes I doubt whether I will be able to get through it
Sometimes I give up...
Sometimes I wonder,
if LIFE is so perfect, how is such a mess possible.

But do you know what the people of Who-ville did?

They gathered in a circle and sang:
“Christmas day is in our grasp, As long as we have hands to clasp.”

I remember when my house was broken into and robbed.
I didn’t feel like singing.
I was mad as a wasp
I was hurt
Part of me wanted the Whos to turn into a mob
And march up Mount Crumpet and show that Grinch a thing or two..
But they didn't they didn’t
Even in moments of extreme trial.

All they had was each other
And they expressed that in song
A quiet song – not fake happiness
A soulful connecting – not pretending nothing had happened

There is a touching dignity in it that I love.
We may have nothing yet we have everything.

And what is even more important to me perhaps is this...
They did not realize the impact their peaceful response would have on one
Embittered, despicable creature.

They could not have known that they were participating in the social rehabilitation 
Of the very perpetrator of the foul deed.
There is perhaps no knowing the extent of our effectiveness
When we turn to LOVE in moments of trouble.

When he heard the singing he realizes:
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 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 though, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas....perhaps....means a little bit more!”

I know it’s a story – yet I continued to be inspired by it.
Can you imagine what would have happened if they had chosen
Revenge, bitterness, resignation?

And..What is that “more” that Christmas means.
When I think of Jesus' teachings – I think the more is in there:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart also be…
And he said that the Kingdom of Heaven was within…

Whenever I read the Grinch I am reminded of how
Fortunate I am to have a community of people
And how dear you are to me
And how much I love my friends
And how nothing in the world is more important
Than love.

And as long as we have hands to clasp..As long as we can reach out to each other in love..
We will surely have exactly what we need to have a joyous season.

I am not trying to minimize suffering.

In a sermon given by Reverend James O. Gilliom of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ
He is talking about the passage from Romans 5:3-5 that reads
“Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”

And he says....

Well personally, I’m going to go light on Paul’s counsel about suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character....
In my experience, that is not the starting place. It may even be cruel counsel, heaping even more burden on someone who already feels so inadequate, and nearly broken with fear or grief.
In my experience what one really needs in such times is
not a push, but an embrace
not pressure, but compassion
not a pep talk, but a prayer
not an exhortation, but a hug
not explanation, but love.

Isn’t that beautiful?
Isn’t that a perfect message for us at this particular time of year?


It reminds me of Saint Francis:
Where there is darkness, let me bring light
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
Let me bring to the table what is in me already,
And join it to that which is in everyone already..

And to me that is the picture of the Who’s of Who-ville coming together singing

When the Grinch heard the Who’s
Singing and holding hands
It effected him in a profound way...

As the story goes...

Well in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he...HE HIMSELF....
The Grinch carved the roast beast!”

Proverbs 17:22
“A happy heart doth good, like a medicine”

And if yours is not happy now…
It's not all up to you to mend and heal
It takes a community
We're in it together

You might want to take small steps..
Perhaps you can begin with acknowledging what you do have
Maybe you can make a point to thank those people in your life who have supported you
Maybe you can give thanks for your own life,

John I
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God.....Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”

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