December 16, 2011
"And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you
are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and
when you are getting up." Deuteronomy 6:6-7
My husband and I did the deed last night--we told our children the truth about Santa Claus. They took the news quite well. To my husband's credit, he began by telling our children the true story of Saint Nicholas.
According to the St. Nicholas Center, Saint Nicholas, better known at an early age as simply Nicholas, became an orphan after his parents died in an epidemic. Nicholas' parents left him with a sizable sum of money, and enough godly faith and character to match his inheritance. Following the generosity of his Savior, Nicholas anonymously gave all he had to the poor. Eventually the church named Nicholas a Bishop; the day of his death still remembered as St. Nicholas day. Generations have honored Saint Nicholas by the exchanging of gifts; children by hanging socks over the fireplace in hopes that the generous Saint Nicholas might pay them, or at least their stockings, a visit.
It's a good story. The generosity of one man inspired countless others to give in a similar manner.
As I pondered the origins of our modern-day Santa Claus, I sat amazed by the influence of one man. Enamored by Saint Nicholas, parents told their children about him, and those children told their children, and so on. Hardly a Christmas passes without mention of the name St. Nick. Amazingly, born just 270 years after the birth of Christ, the story of Saint Nicholas continues strong today. We've told the story, and we've told it well.
But as I considered the faithfulness with which we've passed down the story of jolly ol' St. Nick, my heart sank with grief. For there exists a greater story which deserves to be told.
God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that
whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel--which means, "God with us" (Matthew 1:23). That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
The legacy of Santa honors one who lived a generous life. How do we choose to honor the One who gave the most generous gift of all? We pass down through generations the story of a man who is deceased. What about the story of the Man who died on the cross for our sin but who rose again to live forever with God, interceding on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25)?
The prominence of Santa in our modern-day society proves that stories can indeed be passed from generation to generation. Good news withstands the test of time.
Let us not be remiss this Christmas, and every Christmas, when we
are at home and when we are on the road, when we are going to bed and
when we are getting up, to tell our children the true Good News, the Greatest story ever told.