Christmas, Santa, and the Manger

During the first week of Advent, I have been thinking a lot about Jesus and Santa. Yesterday, I took a chance in my sermon by mentioning the mythic nature of Santa Claus. Every adult knows Santa Claus is not real, but many parents still long for their children to believe. (We have never told our children Santa was real, but I get the fun of it all for those who do.) I think there is something in us that longs for our children to live in a world where good is rewarded and bad punished. A world where right is honored and wrong is put down. A world of justice where even things done in secret cannot be hidden form the judge.

As I look around our word today, I long for that world too. A world where college students are killed on their way to class. A world where hospitals in Aleppo aren’t bombed. A world where children in Flint can drink the water. A world where Native American lands are respected as much as land where white people live is respected. It is undeniable that our world is not the good world God intended. It is broken in too many pieces to count. The hope that someone will someday set all things right and bring true justice into every corner of our world strikes a chord with the longing in every heart. The myth of Santa speaks to this hope. 

While Santa is not real, the story of Santa is true in a deeper sense. It echoes the true and historical story of Jesus. The promise of scripture is that one day God will come back, heaven and earth will be joined together, Jesus will reign over all, and justice will finally come. We rightly long for this day.

But if Jesus were simply Santa, judging good and bad, we would all be without hope. For if we are honest, each of us has violated the commands of God. Each of us has hurt and wounded other people. We have twisted the truth to fit our needs. We have objectified others for our own benefit. We have ignored the weak and powerless and used our power for ourselves. We have sought to be served rather than to serve. If Jesus is simply the one who brings justice, we would all rightly cower in fear for we all fall under judgment.

Thankfully, the baby in the manger is better than Santa Claus. Santa comes bringing justice, but Jesus weds justice to mercy. He suffers all the consequences of sin. He even dies the death all who sinned have earned and then comes back to life so that we who were dead and sin can live. Jesus will one day set all things right, but he will also forgive and make whole all who have been broken by sin. Including me and you. Truly, Come Lord Jesus.

   © zion reformed church 2012