I love song parodies. Remember “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?” Here’s my take for today:
“I saw Santa Claus being kind today.”
Every coin has two sides. Every story has several perspectives. There’s always a different way to look at the same thing – including Santa Claus.
Facebook has become the Athenian Mars Hill of the 21st century.
Everyone has an opinion and everyone can count on a reaction to that opinion. I’m both amused and bemused at folks’ likes and dislikes, criticisms and complaints, generalizations, and passionate angst. A rapid-fire exchange of ideas streams across my news feed faster than the Apostle Paul could ever follow.
One friend voiced his reaction to a speech from President Trump, expressing how disrespectful he felt the President had been. I don’t understand why a host of commenters stood in line to make equally disrespectful comments about the President. We might believe he was disrespectful, but does that give us the right to disrespect him? Do two wrongs make a right? Shouldn’t we devote ourselves in prayer for the President rather than in criticism?
Another friend, who lives in a southern climate, expressed her annoyance at people who put up outside Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. It wasn’t long before several came back with reasons why they put out decorations so early. For those of us who live in the cold Midwest, the weekend before or after Thanksgiving is the optimal time to set out decorations. Who wants to string lights in twenty degree weather, bracing themselves against a fifteen mile per hour wind? The tone of the dialogue softened when one woman confided that her husband works for UPS and especially since the inception of Amazon Prime, the family doesn’t see much of him from Thanksgiving to January. If she wants help with outside decorations, the outside display goes up the week before.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge the actions or words of others. Maybe we should consider that there might be information we don’t know and that other people might have good reasons for the choices we personally would not make for ourselves before we state broad sweeping opinions.
I’m no one to talk.
I’m a Scrooge when it comes to Santa Claus. Aside from the part of trying to explain to a child thatyou’ve lied to them about the big red-suited man since they were wee ones, the whole concept of the man from the North Pole detracts from the real meaning of Christmas and the babe of Bethlehem. Everything is Santa this and Santa that. It puts the emphasis on the greed of getting rather than the joy of giving. Kids line up in long queues at malls with a laundry list of wants and gimmes, getting empty promises from a man who doesn’t even know the child or his family’s circumstances. On my more grouchy days, I dare to think that Santa is a fabrication conspired by Macy’s and Gimbal’s Department Stores.
Yes, I had no use for Santa Claus. No use, that is, until last week.
Three friends and I stayed at a Wingate Inn in Peoria, Illinois for the International Conference on Missions (ICOM). The morning desk clerk was a medium height, rotund, cherry cheek faced man with a full white beard. “You look just like Santa Claus,” one of the women in our group said as she paid for her portion of the bill.
The clerk told her his second job during the month of December was in fact playing Santa Claus at the mall. He became reflective.
“You’d be surprised at the sad stories I hear from kids.”
Wow! It makes perfect sense though, doesn’t it? Haven’t counselors used puppets and stuffed animals for years to help troubled children open up about the trauma, grief, or abusive situations in their lives? Of course, a child would see this costumed character as a safe confidant!
Years ago, I had one of my other gross generalized opinion moments. I told my pastor, “We shouldn’t even celebrate Christmas. It’s just a pagan holiday. We can’t prove Jesus was born on December 25th.”
He gave me an answer that has since warped into my life tagline.
“Use every available opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.”
I don’t know if the Peoria Santa Claus is a Christ follower. What I do know is that he is using a role to love on and listen to hurting children. I may not have much use for the caricature of Santa Claus but I think I’m much more tolerant knowing that there’s a lot of Santas across the country doing some children a lot of good this Christmas. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a legion of silver haired godly men intentionally sought jobs as Santa Claus during the month of December so they could speak the grace of God and love of Jesus to hurting, sad children? Come on, you retired men! You’ve got a golden opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord!
God bless Santa Claus!
May God use Santa to heal, hug, and comfort hurting children’s hearts. Instead of wasting my time and energy criticizing Santa Claus, I’m praying that God use me to reach out as well to share the love of Christ to the children in my community. I may not have a red suit or a white beard, but I can still love and listen to a sad child.
If Santa Claus can use every opportunity to reach out in love to our kids, so can I.
How can you reach out to a sad child this Christmas?