by Pastor Dawn Marie Turner, Bowling Green First and New Harmony Christian Churches
On Sept. 21, 1897, Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the New York Sun asking the now famous question “Is there a Santa Claus?” Which the editor responded, “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.”
That question and answer warmed hearts back then and we all get a nostalgic smile on our faces as we hear that story and what was written.
But now the question for the Christmas season doesn’t seem to be, “Is there Santa Claus?” We see signs of Old St. Nick all around us. We see him in our yards, on our trees, in the malls, at the restaurants, and at Christmas parties.
And many a parent, (me included), give our children hope that there is a Santa Claus by laying out cookies, sending out letters, even watching videos and radar of Santa’s imminent arrival. And now we even have the magic of the Elves on the Shelves.
The resounding question in our time is, “Is there a Christ in Christmas?” In days where we are encouraged to say Happy Holidays so not to offend anyone and be politically correct, have we forgotten to put Christ into our Christmas?
Christmas means literally Christ’s Mass, a celebration of Christ birth. We need to put Christ back into Christmas. We need to look at this Child that was both the gift and the giver. We need to look beyond the imagery of Santa Claus to the beauty of the manger. We need to teach one another that it is better to give than to receive.
We can give our children the innocent fantasy of Santa of our childhood but give them the reality and beauty of the manger and the Christmas story. Give them the magic of the Elf on the Shelf but give them the miracle of Jesus’ birth and the hope that it gave us to have God give his son to us to be a man.
Matthew 1:23 Contemporary English Version (CEV), “A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
We had the greatest gift given to us, even beyond the gifts we find under our tree given by Santa; we have the gift of God with us. May you spread this gift and may your Christmas be a holy day filled with God’s presence.