Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

The message to our youth today was a "dual message". First, don't confuse Santa with Jesus. Second, let God guide you.

Most families that I know tell their children to believe in Santa, the Toothfairy, and Jesus. The strange thing is that it is easiest for them to believe in Santa and the Toothfairy, because they see gifts from them and evidence of them all around. The whole world spends the month of December reinforcing a child's belief in Santa. The local weather man usually tracks Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. You can find a Santa in every mall and department store in most towns. To tell someone else's small child that there is not such thing as Santa is enough to get you punched, in many communities. I would argue that Jesus doesn't have that body of supporters that Santa has. You have to believe in him, based upon faith; no tree, no video games, no bicycle, no pictures. It is just faith.

The real problem comes when a child learns that there is really no Santa and that some impostor or "anti-Clause" is responsible for their gifts. They go from being told that Santa & Jesus are both real to being told that Santa is not real, they've been lied to the entire time, but that the "Jesus stuff" was the truth. Do you see some loss of credibility there, in the children's eyes? That person that they believed so much in, that person who brought them gifts, was a lie. He was made up, the reindeer were made up, Mrs. Clause and the elves were all big lies. Oh yeah, but Jesus is real. I remember being seven years old and the feeling that I was "played the fool" by my folks. They didn't know any better.

Now, some argue that Christmas without Santa would hurt the "spirit" of Christmas. Do you think so? I would say that, if you take Santa out of Christmas and the "spirit" is hurt, you are celebrating Santa and NOT the birth of Christ.

If you take the presents and the tree away, would it still be Christmas at your house? If not, you should recognize that you are celebrating Santa and not the Savior.

The second part of our lesson was to let God guide you.

We talked about how God sent angels and the star of Bethlehem, when Christ was born. He wasn't ambiguous. He was not vague. He didn't scratch a riddle into the ground for the shepherds to solve, so that they might learn of the birth. He didn't give Mary a sign in her tea. There were no "fortune tellers" reading the palms of those wise men. God has a plan and, fortunately, he is not ambiguous about it. We may not completely understand the details of His plan, but we know which direction is toward Him and which is away. I believe that each of us who are children of God can navigate according to His will in our lives, if we'll just follow the signs that we are given.

Finally, I read Luke chapter 2 to them and found myself unusually moved by these verses:
Luk 2:9
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. Luk 2:10
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. Luk 2:11
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas

1 comment:

PJ said...

I would agree with you. I didn't want to damage the boys' faith by telling them fairy tales were true. We always did "Santa" as make-believe although we warned them not to spoil someone else's "belief". As far as I know they never did. They did fine with it.

My son and wife decided to do the same thing with the girls. "Santa" bringing gifts is mentioned but they know it's make-believe. Last year, I asked the almost 7 year old why she didn't want her picture taken with Santa. She looked at me like I'd fallen out of a tree, and in an exasperated voice explained, "Grandma! He's just a man dressed up in a Santa suit. A strange man. Why would I want to sit on a strange man's lap?" With hands out shoulders shrugged in the "Duh" position. BUT she didn't actually say Duh. (That's a forbidden phrase!)

I got the message. Smart girl.