Monthly Archives: December 2014

Here Comes Santa Claus

A Guest Post from my daughter Lydia Snider:

The radio was on and we were cleaning up the house. We turned it to a Christmas station and the song Here Comes Santa Claus was just coming on. We worked and listened and when it came to the part where it says, “Peace on earth will come to all if we just follow the light, so lets give thanks to the Lord above that Santa Claus comes tonight.” We started laughing at the way they had mixed Santa Claus and God; two things that really don’t go together.

But the mixture of these two things didn’t start in the last verse. In the very first verse, in the same line, we hear, “Hang your stockings and say your prayers cause Santa Claus comes tonight!” After listening to the song, you begin to wonder if kids are going to pray to God or Santa (the latter most likely). The Santa Claus story is almost more appealing for kids, isn’t it? Santa brings presents every year, presents that, by the time next Christmas rolls around, have long since been forgotten. Santa will love me whether I’m rich or poor (verse 3). And I don’t mean to say that gifts aren’t good and memorable, they are! But let’s talk about a better gift.

God sent us a gift greater than any Santa could bring: He sent His Son as a baby to be born in a lonely manger in a little town called Bethlehem. It’s sad that such a great God could even be compared to Santa Claus. God sent a gift that would never grow old or be forgotten, a gift that is there for us every morning (not just Christmas morning).

And so to finish, lets remember: 1) Giving gifts is a great thing to do. 2) It’s not loving or kind to say that Santa is coming because he has never come, he’s not coming this year, and he never will come. 3) The story of Saint Nicholas is a wonderful story. He was a person who cared more about others than himself. The way the world has taken this story and turned it into a lie is sad. 4) “Let’s give thanks to the Lord above because he sent his Son to us!”

Merry Christmas ~Lydia

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A Malignant Melody

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
He’s gonna find out
Who’s naughty or nice (Sinatra sings “naughty AND nice” to increase the vagueness?)
Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

This song is always in the mix of Christmas songs that we hear this time of the year. Many of them, even this one, I don’t run to the radio or CD player or whatever media from which it comes and turn it off. I see it as a teachable moment. Guarding my kids (and myself) from such things is not the answer. Nor is the answer letting them figure it out on their own. Assuming this has no effect on us is dangerous.

So, what is so malignant about this melody? You have to admit it’s catchy. Fun. Helpful to parents that cannot otherwise get their children to obey them any other time of the year. Who knows what shopping would be like if the parents could not remind the kids about the premise of this song– “You’re not getting anything if you are naughty.” So, is Christmas about giving a gift or a wage? Are we to earn a gift? No. And that is why this melody is malignant (among other things).

I’m assuming the first three lines of the song are phrases used by Santa Claus (and parents) to remind them to straighten up because Santa Claus is coming. I don’t like the equating of crying and pouting. They are not the same. As a parent, crying is allowed and encouraged. There is nothing wrong with crying. It’s needed and good oftentimes. Pouting is different. Pouting is trying to persuade where crying is a response to pain of some sort. Pouting is fake; crying is not.

I don’t think I have to persuade any readers of this post that Santa Claus is not coming. However, the close similarities of what we Christians often talk about is the fact that Jesus Christ is coming again. If you hold off until He comes to “straighten up” it is too late. It is absurd that Santa or Jesus are okay with kids being “nice” only in the month of December (or at least the day before Christmas for the unruly kids). How much is enough to earn the gift? Is a gift leverage? Are the days leading up to Christmas threats? Nice isn’t it?

This is just a side note: how can Santa see and know if you are awake and asleep and have to “find out if you are naughty or/and nice”? Just saying. It seems he should know that too. While we are here, I also cringe that Santa is given such attributes. Only the Triune God has such attributes and to ascribe them to another is troubling and fatal.

“So be good for goodness sake” is another spin or twist of this Christmas story. I thought we were to be good so we would have presents under the tree. I’m not being “good” for nothing. “If I am going to be good it’s going to cost you mom.” What reason do parents give five seconds after the “gift” is opened and the receiver hates it; it is not gift he asked for and throws it aside as rubbish? Being good for goodness sake will not work here or ever. That would be like saying I go to work everyday just to work; not a paycheck. I intentionally do not say thank you to my boss for my wages. They are not a gift. I earned them. Grace and job must be kept separate on this level and together on other levels. This leads to the issue.

One problem with this whole scenario is the meaning of gift. A gift is undeserved. Of course, you are welcome to celebrate Christmas however you so choose but you might want to change the vocabulary. Start calling the presents wages or earnings. That will help them not confuse things. Gifts are gifts. How one responses to a “gift” is a reflection of your love for the giver or your love of the gift. Is it really loving to give a gift only if the kid has met some undefined, ever-changing standard? No. It’s not.

The fact is no one is good. No one. If we get what we have earned that would be eternal punishment. If we receive the gift of salvation that is mercy. And that mercy comes from Someone. When God chooses to love someone for no reason that is grace. Of course, the grace that saves is the grace that transforms. This is the perfect season to describe this. Many have Christmas trees in their homes. We hang ornaments on the tree. Some even look like fruit. You could even hang a real apple on the tree and you should think it odd if someone thought that a Frazier Fur produced an apple. Everybody knows that it can’t do that. Only a real apple tree can produce an apple.

Only a grace-given, mercy-receiving, justified sinner can produce righteousness…fruit. If it comes for external show, it is not true fruit. Granted, it is hard to tell the difference sometimes. Nevertheless, we should be fruit inspectors.

Dear friend, every breath you take today is a gift. A GIFT! Gifts come from Someone and that Someone deserves thanks. How you celebrate Christmas boils down to who you love. Your perspective is different when you understand who you are and who God is. Your ideas of Christmas change when you understand the meaning of gift and love of the giver. We should be eager to give gifts this Christmas season because we have been loved and love; not for goodness sake.

~Jason


Danger Increases in the Silence

Sermon Introduction for Job 2:11-3:26:

We enter a new scene. Job is alone. Satan is gone. The children are gone. The possessions are gone. The wife is more than likely gone. The whole community, including his extended family, have abandoned him. Little kids spit at him. All that is left are memories. You can’t easily erase those. You could wish the memories to be taken like the rest but it will not work. The darkness seems to illumine the memories. The silence seems to make the voices you are hearing louder and louder. Death would be a mercy at this point. You think the immediate trauma is the hard part. Yet the shock seems to aid the sanity. The insanity comes in the wake of the days that follow…when you are alone. No wife to talk to. No children to check on. Silence.

Applications:

  • Even with people around it can be lonely and painful. Mere presence does not replace relationship and fellowship.

  • Don’t over expect on days like this day. Don’t take everything they say too seriously. Yes, Job really wished the day of his birth to be cut off. Yet, during their conversation his tone changes. This is the initial outburst of a hurting man. Wait them out. Be patient. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Conclusion:

Jude 1:24-25

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

(If you are familiar with Job, you know that he is declared blameless and he is not in the meeting or in the presence of God. Here Jude says Jesus is able to keep you from stumbling and present you to God blameless. I think it is an amazing connection to see and believe!)