Dec 19, 2008

Santa Or Jesus

By J.R. Hall

Well it’s Christmas time again. That wonderful time of year where family and friends gather together to give each other gifts and celebrate the birth of Santa.

What’s that?

It’s not Santa?

It’s the birth of Jesus? Oh… yes, yes of course… How easy it is to get those to confused when they have so much in common.

I mean, Santa delivers presents on Christmas, and Jesus… well he made His presence known. Both Santa and Jesus are historical figures, and we usually think of them as both having beards, and being surrounded by happy little children, scurrying about. Both have quite an uncommon last name that start with ‘C’ and what’s with all the nicknames? They both have a ton of nicknames like, “Father Christmas’ “Prince of Peace”, ‘Saint Nicholas’, ‘Emmanuel’, ‘Kris Kringle’, ‘Wonderful Counselor’ and so on.

Speaking of names… does anybody else find it odd that they both somehow know everyone’s name? And not just that. But they both seem to have the omniscient ability of ‘watching us’. I hear they both like to keep detailed records on all of us.

And what of the seeming ability to be everywhere at once? We know that Jesus lives in the hearts of believers everywhere and in that same token we have Santa, who not only delivers presents to every child in the world all in one night, but also appears in several different malls all over the world - all at the same time – to greet children and hand out candy canes. And don’t even get me started on all the parade’s that he has to attend.

A trait that we all love, is that they both seem like pretty generous guys. We seem to keep accurate lists of our ‘I wants’ and ‘Do you think you coulds’, and then we flood both of them with these wish lists and desperately hope that they come through for us.

The more I think of it… I guess there are a few important differences. For example:

I don’t think Jesus was known for wearing velvet, but Santa seems to be obsessed with it.

And no one has ever accused Jesus of breaking in through the chimney and eating all their cookies. We also know that Jesus was a carpenter, and although Santa has carpenters working or him in his woodshop, he doesn’t seem to be the hands on kind-of-guy. Then there’s the fact that Jesus had 12 disciples that followed him everywhere, but Santa, on the other hand, has 8 reindeer that lead him. (Perhaps 9 if you believe in legends and stories of the red nosed variety.)

In the end however, I keep going back to Santa’s ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ distinction. If we are to be totally hones with ourselves, we will probably find ourselves hoping that Santa isn’t too strict; Or at least… we hope that he’s grading on a curve.

Jesus, on the other hand, came because none of us are ‘nice enough’. Of course we keep trying to convince ourselves, and those around us otherwise.

Ultimately when it boils down to it, Santa is all about Me and all the stuff I so desperately want.

But Jesus on the other hand, is about something more… It’s all about the Grace I so desperately need.

Come to think of it… maybe they don’t have that much in common after all.

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:8-11

God bless you and yours...

J.R. Hall