It seems to be the “PC” thing in Christian circles to talk about the Jesus vs Santa controversy of Christmas. Great efforts are made to point out the Reason for the Season, and all. And while I can appreciate the emphasis that Christ’s birth is the center of this blessed season, and not the jolly ol’ man in the red suit, I wonder how often we fail to realize just how similar they are.
Just as the ongoing Evolution vs Creation debate doesn’t always leave the possibility open for a combination of the two theories, I sometimes wonder if we fail to remember some of the reasons we are drawn to this deity in the first place.
Somehow the word ‘jolly’ is mutually exclusive to Santa whereas we many times miss the deep ‘joy’ found in Christ.
Or the level of faith that is demonstrated during the holiday season……
Do you remember those pre-teen years when you desperately wanted to hold on to the idea of Santa, but were torn by the ‘coolness factor’ demonstrated by your playground colleagues that were in-the-know about the fictional big man? For generations and generations, children have gone to bed believing in sugar plums and flying four-legged creatures on Christmas Eve. Yet there is no difference in that night and any other night of the year, except that Christmas Eve is a night filled with the magic of believing…faith.
I remember those final months of being pregnant and not wanting to even MOVE, much less climb up on a donkey and travel miles away from home. I’m afraid my reaction to Larry would have been much less…uh, gentle when I found out he hadn’t even called ahead to reserve a hotel room for our stay. Ooo…I would have laid into him something FIERCE had we settled for some straw and a cold stable after traveling cross country on donkey-back and me ready to deliver a child for the first time in my life! Faith? Nope; I’m quite certain mine would have been in SHORT supply! A child’s faith in Santa is no less attainable than Mary’s belief in the promises God gave her about the baby she was about to deliver. We celebrate that faith this time of year.
I know there were times in my childhood that I was CERTAIN that Tommy No-Gooder would surely NOT be receiving any gifts from Santa. That bully kid that pushed friends around on the playground or laughed a little too loudly when I tripped in the hallway. Surely HE wouldn’t be receiving anything more than black coal on Christmas morning!! Yet somehow, Santa managed to forgive those indescrepancies and bring even HIM a shiny new toy or two. Santa seems to be very good at selective memory at times. There were plenty of times during the years that I didn’t deserve to get that special something I was hoping and praying for. Yet despite the various requirements that my parents placed on me via the “If you want Santa to come…” threats, Santa always seemed to pull through yet another miracle for me on each December 25 morning. Even when I didn’t deserve it, Santa bestowed upon me a beautiful new shiny present.
Christ longs for nothing short of that for me. He wants me to cling to him in utter belief and have insurmountable faith that He will always show up when He’s suppose to. He longs for relationship and unfounded excitement from me at the mere mention of His name. He desires for me to defend His name when those around me voice their disbelief, and He gives me daily gifts to prove His existence and love for me.
Nah…… I’m not so sure the battle is between Santa and Jesus during this Christmas season. I think the greater service we can show this time of year is that of proving just how much ALIKE these two guys are. Do you believe Christ is an angry, bitter God that has His eye peeled for the moment you mess up? Are you left believing that His critics might just be right and that He is withholding from you all good and perfect things? Or do you look into His face and see merriment and magical cheer? Do you hear Him when He laughs that full and broad explosion of joy – with you, and AT you sometimes as you walk through life together? Do you sit down with Him often and talk about the things you need/want and discuss the ways in which you’ve not lived up to your end of the bargain – and ways in which you could possibly do it a little better in the future?
Do you see the sparkle in His eyes when He looks at you?
I understand the underlying point made by well-meaning Christians trying to focus the world on the REAL reason for Christmas.
But I dare you this year, to see a little more of how Christ is a lot like Santa – both of them loving you more than you could ever imagine and willing to forgive you if you would only believe.
See Christ IN Santa this year. Not in opposition to.
We were created for this very reason……