Jesus and Santa

Merry Christmas everyone!Jesus and Santa
Santa left me a very special present this year. It was an ornament of Santa kneeling before the Christ Child. And when I received it, a lot of emotions ran through me. You see, every Christmas season my Aunt Marie would put out her statue of this image – a larger version of Santa kneeling before Christ. And every year this would be a reminder to my younger self that Christmas was first and foremost about Jesus Christ coming into the world.
And yet, I love Santa. I have been an “Official Agent of Santa” for nearly 30 years. I’ve put on the iconic red costume and entertained both children and adults as the “right jolly old elf.” It is amazing how seeing Santa can bring people in all situations to a place of happiness.
For many years my wife and I have gone to nursing homes to visit hospice patients. I, donning the suit, my wife as Mrs. Clause and any assorted elves who accompanied us would sing carols and spend time with those who were about to leave this side of eternity. And Santa would always bring a smile.
For me, portraying Santa is a way to proclaim the good news. While everyone sees Santa, they are brought the Christmas message through the carols we would sing. While they enjoyed seeing Kris Kringle, they were assured of seeing Jesus.
In our celebration of Christmas, there is room for Santa, elves, reindeer and talking snowmen along side the truth of the Nativity with the shepherds and the Epiphany with the Wise men. Each brings something to the table. One, a fun secular holiday filled with Christmas magic, and the other a reminder that God loves so much that He sent His son to us.
Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians (2:9-19); Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. And that includes Santa.
As we continue to celebrate this wonderful time of year, let us always keep in mind that we truly celebrate the birth of Jesus – God Incarnate.
May your Christmastide be wonderful and may God bless you abundantly in the New Year,


Happy Advent

advent twoThe Advent season is upon us. And as always, I am asking my congregation to journey through Advent, to spend some time with God preparing to again receive the Christ Child in our hearts. But this is a hard thing to do in a world of constant pressures. There are so many things to do to prepare for the “perfect” Christmas (as if that truly existed anyway). We all want to get the shopping done, the house decorated, the baking completed all before the 24th when we gather together to sing Silent Night with our lighted candles, which for some is the only “holy” thing done during the Advent season.
Now I am not saying our Christmas preparations are unimportant. We’ve already begun to decorate the house and have been purchasing gifts. We’ve even gotten the tree a week earlier than normal this year (although it is not yet fully decorated!). But we are also observing Advent. Each Sunday night we have dinner in the dining room and light the Advent wreath. We are striving to balance the busyness of the season with the needs of the family, and the needs of our own spiritual lives. We are taking time to be together doing fun things and we are taking time together to enrich our spiritual lives.
This morning my daughter got up early. She wanted to sit with me on the sofa before I began the morning duties of making breakfast and lunches. But that is my time for personal devotions. And so I asked her to join with me. We spent some time praying together and I told her some bible stories. We talked about John the Baptist and about Jesus. It was a special Advent moment, not because of a particular theme, but because it is a holy moment in anticipation of Jesus. It was a moment of preparing ourselves for the day – before the busyness set in. And it was wonderful.
As you journey through this month, journey with Advent. Spend more time waiting, watching and hoping. Open your hearts to God and see what happens.

And may the God of all hope bless you abundantly this season,