His hair is white, like fresh snow on your front lawn. He sports a full white mustache and matching beard. I have to admit some of my “old man crushes” have had this combo (Sean Connery, Kenny Rogers – before plastic surgery). He has deep laugh lines around his eyes because laughing is his favourite thing to do, besides eating cookies. His shirt size hints at his love for sugar, but he doesn’t obsess about his weight. It’s a wonder he’s not much bigger, considering that sitting is his favourite pose.
He turned 1,750 years old this year, or so rumor has it. And yet COVID-19 can’t touch him, because, if his age alone didn’t give it away, he’s magical.
Born to human parents in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey around 280 A.D., this boy grew into quite the gentleman. He was known for his kind heart, helpful hands, and generosity. He became a monk and traveled the countryside, helping the poor and sick. St. Nicholas became known as the protector of children and sailors. While his humanity ended on December 6, 343 A.D., his spirit lived on in a magical character known in this part of the world as Santa Claus.
Lucky for the children who sit on his knee, Santa has kept the appearance he had just before he died; a jolly old elf. (Seriously, though, he did look a tad old for 63, don’t you think?)
At this time of year, children all over the globe write letters to some version of this Saint, believing he will make their wishes come true on Christmas Day.
You’d better watch out! You’d better not pout. He sees you when you’re sleeping and he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, and if you’ve been naughty, you’re getting nuttin’ for Christmas – well, maybe a chunk of coal in your stocking.
Who hasn’t threatened their children (or students) with this consequence as December rolled around? As if we’d withhold presents from our kids…
Santa is the man. Children are encouraged to write “thank you” in their letters for their previous gift deliveries before they make their new wishes for the current year.
While parts of this tradition are fun and merry, how many children have been disappointed by Santa? He didn’t bring a gift that was too expensive for their parents to attain. He didn’t take them out of an abusive home. He didn’t heal their moms or bring their dads back home.
Why, Santa? Is your magic not strong enough to fulfill every wish? Why are some promises kept and others broken? Do you not love all the children of the world with the same compassion?
Maybe it’s because we have people dress up in red suits and hats to represent Santa that children have such faith in him. He’s tangible, physically present – kind of. Children see him at the mall, on the float in the Christmas parade, or at the very least, on TV. He’s pictured in books, and he stars in movies. His face is everywhere at this time of year. And I bet every child in North America has a name for him.
It saddens me that when I mentioned the birth of Jesus as the Christian reason for celebration at Christmas, one of my Kindergarten students asked, “Who is Jesus?”
The Son of God. That’s who Jesus is. He was born as a human baby to grow up and experience life as a human, to model a perfect life, and, yes, He too was known for His kind heart, helpful hands, and generosity. Not only did He help the sick; He healed them. But when He died, unlike St. Nicholas, He physically came back to life three days later. He walked the earth in person and was seen and touched by many after they watched Him die. He is much more than a Saint – He is the Father of Saints. And His spirit lives on too.
Rather than sitting on a representative’s knee, we bend our knees and posture ourselves to talk to Jesus and His Father, God. He delivers presents too, but not just at Christmas.
Santa has no power. His magic is confined to the imaginations of children, storytellers, and Hollywood scriptwriters.
God knows the names of all the children in the world and He loves them all the same. He loves them so much, in fact, that He sent His Son as the best gift ever. Through believing in Jesus, God promises to take care of us; to hold our hands during rough times; to be there, not only at Christmas, but every single day of the year. He promises an eternal home in Heaven!
Santa can’t make any of those promises. Yet, we invite him into our homes and tell white lies to keep the magic and excitement alive for our children. As we all know, his magic only works for true believers.
I’d like to remind you today that God also sees you when you’re sleeping, and He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, and if you’ve been naughty, the consequences are far worse than a lump of coal in your stocking. In the same book as the Christmas story, Luke pens the words of Jesus as He talked to hypocrites (those who say one thing but do another):
“But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.”LUKE 12:5
Harsh words. God really doesn’t like pretenders.
But read on. His very next words are more comforting for those who are true believers:
“What is the price of five sparrows – two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”LUKE 12:6, 7
God values us. He loves us unconditionally.
I stand on Val’s Stage today as a daughter of God who is grateful to have Someone much worthier of my praise this Christmas than Santa. I worship the true Star of this celebration.
Information about St. Nicholas came from the following site: https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus