THE KNEELING SANTA
He has been under our tree since our first Christmas.
If there was ever an appropriate time of the year to talk about Christmas it would be now. Whether you have little ones in your house or not, hopefully its a happy time. By now I guess its common knowledge that this can be a difficult season for anyone going through their first Christmas since a particularly special person has gone from their life, whether through death, divorce , relocation or abandonment. My sincere wish for you is that you can really get to the beautiful heart of the season without any unnecessary and discomforting emotional pain.
Earlier today as I drove through about six inches of beautiful new fallen crystal clean white snow, as I could have expected every station on my radio was bombarding me with Christmas carols. Im no Grinch but Im already ODing over Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Then just before slipping over to jazz on FM I heard a DJ commenting about the commercialization of Christmas and how there are a lot of people now who dont even celebrate it anymore because they are sick of having to tell their kids stories about elves in a toy shop at the North Pole, reindeers on the roof and a jolly guy named Santa who comes down the chimney and leaves toys for just the good kids and all the rest of the dumb stories that go along with the season.
Although I couldnt seem to do anything but shake my head at that comment I couldnt agree with her more. If thats what Christmas has come down to I wouldnt bother celebrating it either. The sad fact is that there truly are a lot of people out there that have completely forgotten the real story of why we celebrate Christmas or maybe they never knew it. Lets be honest with ourselves if we can. Its really not about red noses and reindeers is it? The central figure of Christmas is not Santa Claus. This celebration is called Christ mass for a reason so just in case there is anyone reading this who is short for a story to tell their children that would make more sense to them as to why we are celebrating (other than so they can get their greedy little hands on more stuff) let me offer the real reason for the season, the story well be telling Jesse, this year and every year to come.
Yes we are celebrating the birth of a baby born in a manger, but the bigger reason is who the baby was, what he did in his life and the reason why he came. Whether you follow him for one day of the year on the 25th of December or every day the whole year through you should know the reason why he is worth following. There are those that follow Britney Spears, or the Lakers, or the Leafs, or the life and times of their favourite movie star, or the UFC or the Stock Market or a thousand other things. All good I believe for the sake of entertainment and the good times, but unfortunately not good for, nor helpful for discovering the answers to the deep questions in our lives such as the reasons for all that has happened to us over the past twelve months. The loves lost, the loves found, the battles lost and those won, the prayers answered and the dreams denied.
Jesus was and is the reason for the season. Before telling your kids a bunch of meaningless, heartless little fairy tales about Christmas why not take a sincere grown up look at the his life yourself, and really put some thought into why of all the people who ever lived, Jesus is the only individual that is worth following, and not just on the 25th of December...So why?
Jesus was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never had a family or owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had – His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this one solitary life.
Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about Him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries… It is from His birth that most of the human race dates its calendars, it is by His name that millions curse and in His name that millions pray.
Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned vocabulary, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of both ancient and modern times.
As the centuries pass the evidence is accumulating that, measured by His effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet.
This I believe is the story of Christmas that no child should be denied. Santa has his place I guess, at least for the kiddies, if only for a day. But we're the grown ups and we've got the whole year to contend with. It's for us to put Santa in his place and Jesus in his place. As this year draws nearer to it's close we look back on the things we once believed and see more clearly now, that which is true. We remember the people we were and yet accept the people we have now become. My family thinks this year of all the incredible gifts we have received in the past twelve months, financial gifts, material gifts, gifts of encouragement, gifts of prayer, gifts of friendship, gifts of love. Not every gift can you hold in your hands. Sometimes the most precious and valuable gifts of all you cannot experience with any of the five senses. They can only be experienced by the heart. We pray in our house that we have given gifts to you this past year. Something of hope, something of love and something from our hearts. And maybe a little story, to show us better how to love.
The Gold Wrapping Paper
Once upon a time, there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his family. This particular year a few days before Christmas, he punished his little five-year-old daughter after learning that she had used up the family's only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. As money was tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all of the expensive gold paper to decorate one shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also was concerned about where she had gotten money to buy what was in the shoebox. Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!" As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her. But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. "Don't you know, young lady," he said harshly, "when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside the package!"
The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: "Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full." The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger. An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.
In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold. (Anonymous)
Wishing you boxes of love, and all that is true for the most beautiful of Christmases.