When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. – Luke 24:30
Our Advent and Christmas sermon series at Table of Grace is called, I’ll Be Home, which captures the warm, idyllic nostalgia of being home at Christmas time. Of course, the reality of home is not always a picture-perfect experience, so we are leaning on our classic Christmas movies to help us talk about the reality of coming home. It is interesting to me that our most beloved Christmas movies all center around our difficult relationships.
This is certainly true of the classic book and movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The brilliance of the book is that we don’t know what happened to make The Grinch’s heart two sizes too small – we get to fill in the blank – but we do know that The Grinch wants to make the Whos just as miserable as he is. You know the story, he crafts his evil plan and steals all the presents, stockings, tree and even the feast hoping that would steal Christmas from all the Who’s of Whoville. As Christmas morning came, The Grinch witnessed that Christmas was not about gifts but something so much more that grew his heart three sizes that day! While that is remarkable, the true meaning of Christmas and home, is found when the Whos invite The Grinch to join them for their feast. This is how Dr. Seuss came to the idea:
“I got hung up getting the Grinch out of the mess. I got into a situation where I sounded like a second-rate preacher or some biblical truism… Finally in desperation… without making any statement whatever, I showed the Grinch and the Whos together at the table, and made a pun of the Grinch carving the ‘roast beast.’ … I had gone through thousands of religious choices, and then after three months it came out like that.” – Dr. Seuss
The table is a powerful symbol of kindness, compassion and forgiveness. That is what The Grinch found among the Whos of Whoville and that is what Jesus offers to us. Jesus often gathered around the table with people who were often excluded from the table. It was even at the table that the disciples finally recognized that he had risen from the dead. The table continues to be the place that we receive and give grace to others. The table is the place where we know we are home. As you gather around tables this holiday season with the Whos or Grinches in your life, may they know the grace of the one who calls all of us to the table and tells us we are home. Perhaps our hearts will grow three sizes on that day.
Rev. Chad McSwain