Herod got more about that first Christmas that most – he understood the implications of a new king being born. I was asked to speak at our family Christmas Eve service and thought that Herod was like the original Christmas Grinch. I discover someone else had had the same idea and so borrowing from them I developed the script below which was read at Causeway Coast Vineyard Christmas Eve service – enjoy!
Are you sitting comfortably, are you ready to hear?
A great Christmas story of hope and good cheer
Alan asked me to speak tonight, right out of the blue
What should I say? I hadn’t a clue.
To Dr. Seuss, I would turn for my inspiration,
To help tell Matthew’s story of the incarnation.
The front row are concerned I might say something heretical
Fear not, I work for an Alliance that is evangelical.
It required quite a few hermeneutical contortions
To ensure I did not commit, too many exegetical distortions.
So this is what I was then prompted to write
To speak of what happen that first Christmas night.
You’ve heard of the Grinch who was played by Jim Carey?
He was green and grumpy and really quite scarey.
Well every Who Down in Whoville Liked Christmas a lot…
But the Grinch, Who lived just north of Whoville, Did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
Whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
“They’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer,
“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I MUST find some way to stop Christmas from coming!”
For Tomorrow, he knew, all the Who girls and boys,
Would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they’d feast! And they’d feast! And they’d FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would feast on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast beast.
Which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least!
And THEN They’d do something He liked least of all!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!
They’d sing! And they’d sing! And they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!
They would sing and worship the baby king
And the more the Grinch thought of this Who ChristmasSing,
The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!”
So the Grinch stole the trees, the gifts and the food
The stockings, the lights and all that was good.
He assumed he’d wrecked Christmas with his nasty trick
But the people of Whoville couldn’t be stopped so quick.
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?”
But he wasn’t the first to try and steal Christmas
No, that prize goes to Herod, the original king of stiffness
Like Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, Herod’s head wasn’t quite right.
Or maybe it was that his shoes were too tight.
But the best and likeliest explanation of all…
Was that, just like the Grinch, Herod’s heart was too small.
And that’s not the extent of it, oh no, not at all;
The truth is that it was MORE THAN two sizes too small!
Well, when the wise men came to Jerusalem, the capital city,
Herod sent for them and pretended he too had pity.
“Here, let me help you,” he said, “let me be your friend.”
But in the back of his mind was a more sinister end.
He fancied himself the “King of the Jews.”
So the thought of another king was mighty, big news.
King Herod the Grinch pretended to care
But the birth of a rival king gave him quite a scare.
“I, too, want to worship this king who’s been born.”
But these words from Herod were dripping with scorn.
Oh, he wanted to find that baby, all right.
But only to say to it, a permanent “Good night!”
No effort or expense was Herod willing to spare;
Just to track down this child and get it out of his hair.
So he convened a talks process right there and then
11 weeks later they said take the traditional route to Bethlehem.
The wisemen set off still following the star
The camels were great – though it would have been quicker by car
As they travelled, they concluded, Herod was up to no good.
He’s nothing more… than a first-century hood.
Then putting all this unpleasantness, completely out of mind,
They journeyed on to Bethlehem, the Christ-child to find.
When the star stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy
And entered the house to find Mary and a baby boy.
The cattle were lowing, the baby awakes
And little Lord Jesus being fully human, lots of crying he makes
“We’re wise men from the East, these gifts we do bring.
For the child who was born, for the baby king.”
The gift of this remarkable little child,
This precious little one so meek and so mild
Is not just any child, but the one who was foretold
In prophecies that were now more than centuries old.
You see, God’s prophets in the past had frequently spoken
Of a gift which was coming, that was more than a mere token.
“Our God,” they said, “is not a God far away.
But a God who was coming and a God who would stay.”
Jesus, this baby, was indeed God in human form.
Even though this thought is far from the norm.
They presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh
Not too shabby – it was clear these guys weren’t poor!
The wise men from the east, then had a strange dream about
Not returning home, by their traditional route
Joseph too had been told to take the family to Egypt
In a move that proved to be pretty strategic
Herod the Grinch when he heard, was livid at the news.
His anger boiled over and it’s said, he blew a fuse.
The wise men were gone; Jesus, Mary and Joseph as well.
And Herod the Grinch began to scream, stomp and yell.
As he realized he’d been tricked Herod’s head turned red
He killed every child under two – dead, dead, dead
But it was too late, Herod’s trap was too slow to close.
For the Christ-child had escaped, right from under his nose.
Now Herod the Grinch, that first Christmas did almost steal
For he knew more that most, that Jesus was the real deal
Though his evil was thwarted, in spite of his zeal.
And badness and evil no longer have a permanent place
In a world that has come now to know Jesus’ face.
And, in Jesus, God had gained a foothold; in the world he adored.
And, through Jesus, it was a world; now destined to be restored.
Back in Whoville the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
And what happened then? Well…in Whoville 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!
When our hearts are too small, we can’t take it in
Fear rules the day, no room in the inn
We are too busy to notice what has just taken place;
This surprising, unprecedented sign of God’s grace!
And you may be wondering yourself, what was all the fuss.
But this child was Emmanuel, which means God with us.
A savior he was, and he is, and always will be.
A savior for everyone; for you and for me.
God’s word made flesh, the divine in a skin
Will we become God’s word made flesh like him?
We wouldn’t be us, if we didn’t stop and say
If this is new news, then today is the day
As the kid’s would say – ask him into your heart
Allow it to grow, make a fresh start
Repeat after me and Ill teach you to pray
A prayer that will drive fear and misery away.
Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, And love my I pray
Enlarge my heart, break off the fear, and then
Fill me with joy and your Spirit, amen
If you prayed that prayer for the first time today
Come up at the end for a free pack to take away.
And that, my dear friends, is the good news for today.
Of Jesus; the life and the truth and the way.
The hope that He brings chases out all the fear
As He fills your heart full of joy and good cheer
Merry Christmas to you all and a happy new year!