I know what some of you are thinking.
What kind of church is this? Is it one of those narrow, nasty groups of people who just hate everything, and want to rain on everyone else’s parade? Don’t they believe in the spirit of generosity which Christmas inspires in people, and which Santa Claus, at least to some people, represents?
Here’s the thing. Believe it or not, we’re not like that. We believe in celebrating Christmas. And we’re not here to ruin anyone’s celebration. We certainly don’t want to put a damper on anyone’s generosity to those in need.
At the same time, the idea behind this sign (beyond the cunning pun) is that too much of the time our desire to show generosity degenerates into a combination of lethal weapons which can bring more “drear” than “cheer”. Have you noticed how much of the time people actually dread or even “hate” Christmas? The combination of greed, overspending, credit card debt and trying to look good to those who receive your gifts – it so misses the point of everything that is real and true and good about Christmas.
Our ideas of Santa Claus are a mixed bag of influences, but the most positive understanding of him comes from the tradition recognizing Saint Nicholas, a good and godly man who looked for anonymous ways to give generously to people who were really in need of help. He expected nothing in return – and made sure his gifts were given in secret. That’s the spirit of giving, one that doesn’t feel pressure, obligation, or the desire to one-up somebody, but a pure impulse to show practical kindness to people who cannot repay it.
So as Christmas draws near, our prayer for you is for more than successful shopping. It’s for a Christmas that focusses on the point – God’s gift to humanity of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. May our celebration be calibrated and coordinated by God’s own giving heart, and may all of us refuse to allow our Christmas to be hijacked by humbug. Let us not be pushed into “Satan’s cause” – to ruin our happiness, even when we’re trying to do something nice (like giving). Instead, let’s keep our vision clear, focus on the Christ child, and participate in our traditions in a way that brings us and others peace, love, and joy, not stress, bills, and exhaustion. Merry Christmas!
P.S. For great ideas related to a meaningful and generous Christmas, see Canadian Baptist Ministries’ gift catalog, or check out World Vision, Advent Conspiracy, or your local food bank or Salvation Army Thrift Store. Here’s a link to an amazing video from Advent Conspiracy. I would recommend this to anyone: Advent Conspiracy Video