I celebrated the birth of my Lord and savior on Christmas day, and I have to say I find it a true travesty that Santa Claus is more popular, considered more loving, even more moral than the man to whom the day is named after, Jesus Christ. This travesty was a recent revelation for me. I've long thought that "holy days" were too commercialized, but I hadn't noticed the rise of Santa as a great moral being until recently. His awesomeness has just been so prevalent in my everyday life, that I hardly even notice the changes.
For example, I have a little girl and because of her I have been asked several times this month if I’m going to tell her about Santa Claus. And if I do, how long will I wait until I tell her the truth about old Saint Nick. I've even been asked about how I'll break the news to her that Santa is all made up. And to be honest, this a question I've pondered before with friends from an age as early as high school, where we would sit around and talk about when it was that we found out the truth to the greatest of all parental conspiracies.
No one has asked me though, if I am going to teach her what Christmas is really about. Or how I’m going to teach her the values that our Lord and Savior brought to the world, or how He sacrificed His life on the cross. I concede that some people may think that because I'm a Youth Pastor, that I’ll naturally do these things already, and so won’t bother to ask. But not everyone knows that I am one, and I would think that a Christian parent, or soon-to-be parent, may want to ask "how" I will teach my children about Jesus. But, to be honest, I’ve never asked anyone those questions either. Yet, I have wondered about how I will one day talk to my kids about Santa Claus... =/
Christmas is a fun day, it’s a special day. It’s a day to enjoy with your loved ones. But it’s a day about Jesus. It should be a day about Jesus, FIRST. I challenged my youth students to take the day to get to know Him better. Shouldn't we celebrate and appreciate the birthday boy on his birthday? But we are trained from our childhood to expect things for ourselves. When did I become so selfish that I celebrate myself on Jesus’ birthday? The magi gave gifts to Jesus, not to each other. How many times have I counted the number of gifts I received and felt bitter or jaded? Maybe it's something that comes and goes with age. Now, I only need to count the number of blessings I've received from above to feel humbled.
Christmas is now a world phenomenon. I run a math and reading center that is full of Hindu and Muslim students. I had an internal struggle, as a business owner and a Christian, wondering if I should say Merry Christmas to my students as they go on their school allotted "Winter Break" (which we no longer call "Christmas" or even "Holiday"). I was astonished to find Indian and Bangladeshi students giving me Christmas presents and wishing me a Merry Christmas. What has Christmas come to when it's no longer considered, in the minds of so many, a Christian holiday? Did you know that the Oaks Mall will not allow you to sing Christian Christmas carols there? You can't take your youth choir there and give a presentation (I've tried) if you sing Christian songs. You can sing Christmas carols, but not Christian ones.
How can Santa be more moral than Jesus? Someone considered that Santa doesn't discriminate; he gives gifts to all the good children in the world, despite religion, even if they don't believe in him. But then, Santa isn't real either.
The point I want to make, or rather the question that I want to ask is, "What does Christmas mean to you?" Consider this for a second.
Now, how much of that is centered on God, Jesus or the Bible? Do you celebrated Clausmas or Christmas? I consistently hear people in Florida, year after year, wish for a white Christmas. Since when was Christmas about snow? The majority of the people in the world do not see snow on Christmas day. It didn’t snow when Jesus was born. Have you ever wondered why you might desire a white Christmas? Especially those of you who were born and raised in Florida, who convinced you that Christmas should be cold and covered in snow? Some say that you can thank Dickens for that.
Did you know that Santa Claus in a red outfit is a recent phenomenon? You can thank Coca-cola for that one. Now-a-days a Santa in purple or green just looks weird. And how do magic elves fit into a Christian holiday?
My point? Do you ever consider what it is you believe in, and what it is you long for, and where it all is actually coming from? How much of it was just told to you by marketers and advertisers, and you just believed?
I posed these questions to my youth and challenged them to take their life and their faith seriously because our belief in God can look the same as our belief in Santa. How much did you read about God yourself, and how much were just told? Apostle Paul said that the Bereans were of "noble character" not because they listened to every sermon without questioning, but because they heard what Paul had to say and then checked the scriptures to see if what he said was true.
I'm not trying to raise a generation of cynics. I just don't want them to be ignorant.
Christmas was the day that Jesus set a new standard as to what a human could and should be. Jesus was God-like and through Him, so are we. The challenge is, will we act like it.