Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, portrayed in the book, “The Grinch that Stole Christmas,” and the Disney movie “The Grinch,” seems to have backslidden, his newly enlarged heart returned to its original measly size. Once again, he may be slipping into madness, as indicated by his previous schedule:
“4:00, wallow in self-pity. 4:30, stare into the abyss. 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one. 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me. I can’t cancel that again. 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing. I’m booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness.” — The Grinch
Enraged, perhaps at his foiled attempt to steal Christmas from the tiny town of Whoville, it feels that very bored, unrepentant Grinch has leapt from between the covers of that children’s book. Determined to do dirt to each and all, he has grabbed COVID-19 and attacked our entire globe.
The COVID-19 Grinch has some mightily worried. We in the West are not too different from fictional Whoville, it seems. Christmas means comfort. Family gathered round. Gifts heaped under the tree. Programs and banquets and parties. Feeling threatened by pandemic restrictions handed down by government and medical leaders, some people choose defiance over compliance, protesting the removal of what they feel are their rights. To gather. To do business. To attend church.
Contrast that with entire populations in poverty-stricken third world countries, where people already live with the grave reality of scant medical aid, no government hand-outs or supplies of basic needs. For them, COVID restrictions mean government shutdowns of their tiny businesses. Numerous people who beg coins to buy daily bread have been stopped. For them, COVID means starvation and almost certain death.
“Grinch” is a poor descriptor of the evil the pandemic has brought to the world’s poor. Nevertheless, Christmas cannot be stolen. Even in life’s darkest times, such as what many face today (even in Canada), God’s gift of Jesus Christ demonstrates that God has not abandoned us. He is more present than ever.
The Preacher and I have an Advent wreath on our coffee table. We haven’t always done this, but this year it seems essential to carve out a few moments each week to light each candle—hope, peace, love and joy—and sit near the flickering licks of bright warmth. To hold hands and pray that, amidst the chaos of the Christmas season, particularly this COVID-19 one, rife with concern and unrest, people will pay attention to God’s voice speaking through global pandemic panic. One word, especially: Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us. Light in the darkness. Love. The big white candle in the middle.
How about setting aside your rights for now? Concentrate on the privilege of carrying that Christ-light to those worse off than yourself. Donate to the Salvation Army, Canada Helps.org, or any other reputable charitable agency. And don’t be surprised if you feel your heart grow a size or two.