The day is getting closer and closer… the day when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. To my kids it’s not only Jesus’ birthday but also the day that Santa brings gifts. I know… now before you pull the “holy” card on me this is just the tension my family is living in right now with the kids. But, to be completely honest my daughter has realized the truth about Santa and my son has entered into the existential skeptic phase of believing.
Though Santa is a fictitious character, his legacy originates from a real person in the 4th century who is known as St. Nicholas. (I’m sure you know the story.)
Last week I missed a golden opportunity to bring the two stories together. In our current sermon series titled “Jesus is…” we want to redirect our focus from an overly simplified or sentimental explanation of who Jesus is and bring back into focus the mystery of the Incarnation. While we are teaching on Jesus we are also addressing some of the commonly held misunderstandings about his identity and nature of Jesus that has popped up in the early church.
Last Sunday I preached on the divinity of Christ, speaking about Jesus being fully God. I also, talked about the heresy of Arianism which argued against the idea of Christ being God but a subservient. Not fully God and not fully human. All of this happened on St. Nicholas’ Day, a day when the church remembers the work and life of St. Nicholas. The moment where I missed a golden opportunity was when I failed to intersect the story St. Nicholas in my sermon with who was actually at the Council of Nicaea. While we have a romantic view of Santa being this larger than life jolly man, St. Nicholas was a real person with real passion for Christ recognizing Christ being the true gift to humanity. It just so happened at the Council of Nicaea St. Nicholas was filled with so much passion and outrage towards Arianism he gets up crosses the room and slaps Arius across the face.
Soon Santa will become just another nostalgic tradition we “do” on Christmas morning as we exchange gifts but the romance and excitement of giving gifts will always be there. Not because of the remembrance of Santa but because the recognition of the love of Christ and his gift to us in our lives.