Below is a post I made in December 2007. So much has changed in my life in these last 3 years, but I think that this post still holds much truth to me. Obviously, I don’t work in a church anymore, but I am trying to embrace the Advent season.
Thank you, Jesus, for being my hope.
The magic of the holidays are here. The stores glisten in shade of red and green, music plays on every corner, and Santa’s throne is constructed in every shopping mall and department store. There’s a festivity in the local churches, although it’s a significantly different sounding message. The churches are preparing to celebrate the birth of one bouncing, bubbly, baby boy. A boy named Jesus, who came to take away the sins of the world. Once a year, we are allowed and encouraged to breathe in the mystery of the Christmas story. People crack open their leather-bound dusty Bibles to revisit the tale of the child in the manger and the magi with their three gifts.
It is my favorite story.
I can’t help but be transformed by that starlit sky and the ungainly movements of a virgin swollen with child. My favorite tale of it is told in the book of Luke, in the New Testament. “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Imagine a girl, no more than a child herself, carrying the salvation of the world in her womb. Picture the first time she felt Jesus’ feet fluttering in her womb. Imagine the overwhelming love she held deep inside. Everything in her life was extreme and confusing at that time. She was a young girl who had never been with a man, yet she’s due to have a child. A girl surrounded by imminent scandal. How did she deal with her family? What about her skeptical beau Joseph? Did anyone doubt her? The only woman she had to talk to was her elderly, formerly barren, now pregnant, cousin, Elizabeth. Surely, she must have felt at times that it was only her and her baby. I imagine she whispered her love for Him many times. Mary didn’t have the normal anxiety of a new mother; she was in charge of the Savior of the world. Imagine the pressure!
Working in a church allows me to dwell on this wonderful truth, but it also keeps me from truly enjoying it as well. Nothing’s so simple anymore. It seems like Christmastime is about having the best program a church can produce. I believe this is standard for the majority of churches and Christian subculture in America. Also, as a Christian, I hear others who criticize our Santa Claus-embracing counterparts. “It’s materialistic,” They miss the Reason for the Season,” “Santa’s not Jesus,” and much more is said this time of year. Are we as Christians any less materialistic? The majority are not.
In regards to Santa—I agree that he doesn’t belong in the church at Christmas. People can potentially miss the central message, and then the Christmas season is done entirely in vain. Separately from the Church—I still believe in Santa. I love to imagine his gingerbread-style mansion in the snowy tundra. I love the joyful faces of the elves and the flying reindeer. I imagine a sparkly aura around the North Pole. It is a place of selfless giving and joyful hope. Isn’t that what Christians are trying to promote? Santa encourages children to behave and sends little minds into a fanciful whirlwind of their imaginations. Let the little children imagine! Give them hope. Sing songs of “Joy to the World” as well as “Here comes Santa Claus.”
The reason we do this is because we are teaching children to use their imaginations. We’re teaching them to believe. We are giving them a happy place to retreat in the inner recesses of their minds and to dream wonderful dreams. Children need their dreams. I need my dreams. Taking that away makes the world a more difficult place to live in, and the world is difficult enough.
That’s why I still believe in Santa.