Santa Claus, My Friend

Santa Claus was always part of our Christmas celebrations during my boyhood.  As a matter of fact, the Ole’ Boy was quite good to me then, and continues to delight my holidays!  I choose not to engage in the Santa Claus debate.  Frankly, I think it’s a moot point.  Believe me, there are far more important matters to preach about.  I’m just real sure God is not sitting on His universal throne, wringing His hands over whether or not you and I embrace Santa Claus!

Sadly, some pastors place their personal convictions on their congregations and preach them as doctrine.  Jesus warned us about such matters.  Obviously, the Bible does not address the matter of Santa Claus, so that automatically places his involvement in your life in the “non-essential, it-doesn’t-matter” category.  If Santa Claus is an unnecessary fabrication in your mind, then don’t place his picture on your front door.  If your Christmas would not be the same without the legendary, jolly fat man, then remember to leave him refreshments close to your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve!

In our home, our four kids wrote Santa detailed letters, listing their Christmas “wants.”  We then mailed those letters to Lori’s dad, and he called the kids on the telephone, talking in his deep “Ho-ho-ho” voice, so as to disguise himself. Our kids got the biggest charge out of this annual gig!  That is, of course, until they were old enough to recognize Papa’s voice.  At that point Santa became a fond memory.

You see, there are “essentials” in the Christian life, and there are “non-essentials.”  The virgin birth is an example of a non-negotiable essential.  Santa Claus definitely fits in the “non-essential, it-doesn’t matter” category.  Naturally, we taught our children the true meaning of Christmas as soon as they were old enough to understand.  As a matter of fact, one of our household traditions was the reading of the Christmas story recorded in Luke 2 before the kids opened their gifts.

I just don’t get hung up over such matters.  Who cares?  Santa Claus and Christmas trees are neither evil nor good.  They are neutral expressions of holiday tradition.  And God doesn’t care either way.  Christians who use Jeremiah 10:1-5 to support God’s disapproval of Christmas trees forget two things:

1.Israel was literally copy-catting the heathen nations around them. They worshiped false gods, one being ornate trees. Proper biblical interpretation mandates that the reader understands the original intentions of the author.  Christmas trees exist in most every civilized nation of the world, and as far as I know, no one is bowing down to them.

2.Everything in the Old Testament has to be filtered through the cross and dissected from its law-based principles. Jeremiah 10:1-5 does not discuss a command to keep; it warns Israel to live lives separate from idolatrous practices.  Today, both saints and sinners put up Christmas trees! 

If Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas, Father Christmas or whoever he may be called, have no room in your life or Christmas experience, that’s fine.  But please don’t throw cold water on those of us who appreciate the joy they bring at Christmas time around the world.

I can’t close without telling this true, delightful story.  Dr. and Mrs. Harry Yates sang and spoke one year during our senior adults Christmas dinner.  Harry, being a prankster, walked into the room wearing a Santa hat.  One of our precious saints, however, did not appreciate Harry’s red fur-lined cap.  He said to Pastor Yates, “I don’t appreciate you wearing a Santa hat in the church.”

I’ll never forget what happened next.  Harry looked at the dear man and replied, “What?  You mean after all I’ve done for your family?  After all those years of climbing down your chimney, risking life and limb to deliver Christmas gifts to your children, and this is the thanks I get?”  The man’s countenance changed dramatically.  He was totally bewildered and speechless!  He walked away in a fog!

If Santa Claus is part of your Christmas celebration–fine.  If not, that’s fine, too.  Just don’t tell the rest of us who enjoy the spirit of giving that because he misrepresents the real meaning of Christmas, we are wrong to acknowledge him.  Leave such matters in the hands of individual believers.

Finally, allow me to end with an easily recognized quote:  “Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas!”



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