I absolutely love this time of year and have many fond memories of Christmas past. A couple stick out, like waking up as a child and watching my Mom laboriously put my new bike together that was supposed to be from Santa. Then there were the midnight masses and all the tradition of family that went with it. Not saying how alert I was after drinking my mother in law's spiked eggnog, but I remember, barely.
And of course many Christmases waking up to the shrieks of children gasping at their new haul from Santa. I miss those times, but I get to live a part of it through grandchildren and extended family. But what I don't miss is the new perspective of a Christian as to what this day really means. I have found that the words Here Comes Santa Claus, takes on a whole new meaning when you look at it on face value.
First and foremost Christmas is about the birth of our savior. The gift giving tradition may have come from the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, but Santa is something we may have created to give the holiday some flavor. Certainly every child seemingly spends more time thinking of Santa than Jesus this time of year. He is of course the symbol of giving, especially to all the good boys and girls.
The bad concept of this is that we carry those memories of Santa from childhood to adulthood and often have a concept of God that he rewards the good and punishes the bad. That if we put all our requests on a list he will deliver what we ask. That Santa is at our beck and call when needed.
Thus the phrase takes on a new adult meaning to some of us. Here Comes Santa Claus to bring us all the goodies, tidy up our lives, give us what we have earned. Some of it could even be biblically close to being accurate, but it turns us into performers instead of receivers. Here's an important point to remember, every time Jesus encountered someone going in the wrong direction who wanted to change, he forgave them and gave them the gift of grace.
And every time Jesus ran into someone who considered themselves "good" he usually berated them for being too proud, but left them with grace. Grace to the bad, grace to the good, performance only mattered after the truth was known. Then they were expected to act differently. But still, when either failed to live up to expectations, there was grace.
Knowing what I know now after 32 years as a Christian, God doesn't give us everything we ask for, but he instead gives us everything we need. If you ask for a fish he won't give you a snake, but he may give you a fishing rod to go catch one. He may not give you the rent money, but he may find you a job opportunity.
And, he is never "on demand" as in our cable system, he is instead ever present, ever listening, ever waiting for us to trust in him and have faith that he will do what is best for us even if it is not on our list.
I remember how hurt I was to find out there was no Santa. But I also remember how happy I was when I came to completely know God through his son whom Christmas was all about. That's when Here Comes Santa Claus became just another song.
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.