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December 05, 2005
Christmas is a very strange holiday. In the country that I live in (USA) we generally celebrate Christmas by attending church plays which tell the story of Jesus being born then Santa Claus making an appearance to give toys to the kids. We give gifts to each other and get together with our families, share a meal, and then at the end of the day collapse into our beds from exhaustion wondering if there was something we could have done to make the day more magical. It is a very strange day.
As far as the way we celebrate Christmas goes, evolution is very much at work. This holiday has "evolved" from manmade traditions, folklore, acts of human kindness, paganism, and Christianity into the holiday we know today as Christmas. I attended a church play in which a game of "Family Feud" was played between true biblical characters (Joseph, Mary, a shepherd, and a wise man) and fictional characters (Santa Claus, his wife, an elf, and Rudolph the red nosed reindeer). The play was a satire on what the true meaning of Christmas should be.
Is Christmas about shopping, Santa Claus, stockings, and toys or is it about the celebration of the birth of Christ? When someone says "Seasons Greetings" to me should my response always be "Merry Christmas"? Why is the secular world so obsessed with saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"?
Christmas was not always a Christian holiday. It was originally a pagan holiday. In an effort convert pagans to Christianity, the Catholic church decided that Dec. 25th (the celebration of the winter solstice and the worship of the sun) would be the day they officially recognize as Christ's birthday. Never mind that Christ was probably born in the summertime. This strategy worked very well as many pagan people became Christians.
Today, we have Santa Claus championing the cause of commercialism while the churches remind us that the "reason for the season" is Jesus Christ. When you step back and regard this holiday from an objective point of view you can see a sort of spiritual battle taking place. Satan wants to keep us from the truth of God so he introduces "fairy tales" which keeps our minds occupied with other things besides God.
I remember when my son was around 7 or 8 years old, I told him that Santa likes milk and cookies so it would be wise for him to please Santa by leaving a glass of milk and some chocolate chip cookies out because all that flying around the world made him hungry. Of course, it was I who actually wanted the snack. For the children who are fortunate enough to have parents who want to make Christmas a magical day for their children, Christmas Eve is the least restful night of the year as they strain to hear Santa landing on the roof of the house with his reindeer. I remember restless nights on Christmas Eve even after I learned there was no such thing as Santa because I knew my parents had bought me gifts.
It was his school classmates which told him that Santa Claus was his father. He asked me why would I tell him about Santa Claus if he really wasn't real? In other words, why do we deceive our children into believing a lie? In my own case, it was simply a matter of tradition. I believed in Santa Claus when I was a child so my child should believe in Santa Claus. I question the wisdom of that because I remember my disillusionment when my mother told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I know one thing, it sure would be cheaper for the parents if there really was a magical man who brought toys to the all the boys and girls on Christmas day.
The fiction is that Santa brings gifts to all the good boys and girls of the world. If the parents are poor, drug addicted, or just downright selfish, then Santa will not show up and those kids will wonder why Santa brings other children gifts but not them.
The truth is Jesus has a gift He wants to give to everyone on the planet and this is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23 No one will be disillusioned when they put their faith and trust in Jesus.
There are many movies centering on the subject of believing in Santa Clause. The Miracle on 34th Street is just one example. Yet, this belief has no value because Santa Claus is a lie. What value is there in believing in Jesus Christ? The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.John 3:36 Jesus said of Himself "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. John 11:25
Jesus offers eternal life and He is not a work of fiction. Santa offers only disappointment to those who believe in him. Who deserves to be honored during the Christmas holiday?
Copyright 2005 by Gary Goodworth
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