December 27, 2015: The Difference between God and Santa Claus!

Posted on : Dec 24th, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

I have no idea how many of you had gifts under your tree from Santa, but I would guess the majority of you would prefer to be found on the “naughty” list rather than the “nice” list! Don’t take that too personally, but this Shepherd knows his sheep!

What I also know is that most Christians today have a hard time knowing the difference between God and Santa Claus. Not unlike the white bearded, “Jolly old St. Nick,” many of us imagine or picture God as an old white man with a beard. We also imagine God to be one who keeps a careful record of who is “naughty” and who is “nice.”

Oftentimes when a crisis hits, we come begging to God like a little child does to Santa. I want this. I want that and the next thing. Here’s my list. Please, Santa? Please!!! I’ll be really good if….. Substitute God and there you have it. “God, I want this. I need that. I want this more than anything. If you’ll just give me “….” I’ll be really good and love you and worship you and never say a nasty thing again. Not.

And then there is the great judgment. Do I get what I want or do I get “coal?” Does anyone living in the United States even know what coal is? We need a trip to West Virginia, to a good old fashioned coal mine to know what that’s all about. It’s not the nicest thing that comes out of the earth; it’s filthy and dirty, and after burning it, you have to carry its ash somewhere and burry it. A lot of people believe God gives good gifts to those who are good, and “coal” (punishment) to those who are bad.

And then a lot of people believe in God with about the same regularity that they believe in Santa. Ever notice that Santa only appears when it’s near the gift-giving time of the year? Where is the dude the rest of the year? Where is God when you don’t necessarily need him or her?

A number of years ago a guy came to see me who was bemoaning the fact that God was being unfair to him. All he ever got from God was coal. Earlier in the conversation he had told me he had given up on God, on religion, on church. All of which led me to ask myself, “then why are you here talking to me?” But I knew the answer to that question even before I thought about it.   Been there. Done that.

What this guy and many of us have not yet figured out is the difference between God and Santa Claus. They are definitely not the same. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the story of Christ’s birth. The God that is revealed to us in the birth of Jesus is so far from Santa Claus, it’s hard to figure out how the two got so confused.

Stop on by this Sunday and we’ll sort out the differences!

Christmas Blessings to you, whether you’ve been naughty or nice!

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

 John 1: 1-18

“The Word took on human flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”

In the beginning there was the Word;

            the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God.

The Word was present to God from the beginning.

Through the Word all things came into being, and apart from the Word nothing came into being that is.

In the Word was life,

            and that life was humanity’s light –

a Light that shines in the darkness,

            a Light that the darkness has never overtaken.

Then came one named John, sent as an envoy from God, who came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through his testimony everyone might believe. He himself wasn’t the Light; he only came to testify about the Light – the true Light that illumines all humankind.

The Word was coming into the world –

was in the world –

            and though the world was made through the Word, the world didn’t recognize it.

Though the Word came to its own realm,

            the Word’s own people didn’t accept it.

Yet any who did accept the Word,

            who believed in that Name,

            were empowered to become children of God –

Children born not of natural descent,

not of human will –

but born of God.

And the Word took on human flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.

We saw the Word’s glory –

            filled with grace,

            filled with truth.

John testified by proclaiming, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘the One who comes after me ranks ahead of me, for this One existed before I did.’”

Of this One’s fullness

            we’ve all had a share –

            gift on top of gift.

For while the Law was given through Moses,

            the Gift – and the Truth – came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God,

            except Jesus,

            who has revealed God to us.

 

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