I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. – John 10:14-15
Day 7 – Santa
Take a moment to look around Maul-Hall this Christmas, and I guarantee you will find a number of Santa Claus figurines.
Santa – aka Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Père Noël, and a variety of other aliases – may be a popular character, but he has found himself front and center in the ongoing secularization of this time of the year. America is witnessing a seemingly irreversible shift of attention away from the manger and over to the “Holiday Tree”, where people flock to pay homage to the jolly elf’s unrivaled status as a tour de force in the world of marketing.
ROOTS: But I love St. Nick because of his roots in Christian charity, and the quality of Christ-like generosity that he represented before he was hijacked, re-imagined, and morphed into the patron saint of overspending, unreasonable expectations, and credit card debt that he is today.
My favorite rendition is our featured image in today’s post. He looks like a bishop, and in 4th Century Asia Minor he was. The edgiest story about Bishop Nicholas took place at the Council of Nicaea, in 325. Saint Nick was so passionate about his beliefs that he lost his cool and smacked Arius (who did not believe Jesus had equal standing in the Godhead) in the face.
The historical Santa was all about Jesus. I’m not so sure about the violence, but I can’t help but respect his unshakable allegiance to Jesus and his passion about faith.
NATIVITY: Another one of the Maul-Hall Santas can be seen holding up the Nativity for all to see. It’s like he want to make sure everyone understands what Christmas is really all about. It’s clear to me that – without exception – the historical figures we base the Santa legend on were people of deep faith, motivated by their love for Jesus. I enjoy pointing out that aspect of the story to those who try to insist that Jesus be left out, uninvited, evicted from our “Holiday Season” conversation.
This is not only a festive time of the year, but it’s also deeply spiritual. I think it’s nothing short of hypocrisy to pretend we can have one without the other.
Santa Claus without the Incarnation is like a cheeseburger without the meat. It would be cheesy, but there would be no substance (Hey, I’m writing this in a hurry this morning; but I stand by the principle of the illustration!).
SUNDAY MORNING: Today, the 8th day of Advent, it is Sunday. Regardless of your go-to position regarding Jesus, or God, or religion, or church, I’d like to invite you to attend a worship service today. Go with an open mind, and an open heart, and maybe you will be able to see some evidences of the Incarnation.
Immanuel; God With Us; Light of the World; Prince of Peace. We have a lot to stand up for, and a lot to witness to, over the coming few weeks.
Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy – DEREK
Advent Gallery to date: