A Tale of Two Stories: Jesus versus Santa

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It is Advent. Take a quiet moment for yourself. Breathe. Relax. “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths.” (Mt. 3:3b) In the quiet, ask God what story he wants to write with your life.

God has written many beautiful stories on the pages of history. One of his most glorious chapters is the story of Christmas. This wondrous and mind-boggling story of God come to earth as a newborn babe not only happened in earthly time but is being lived out now in human souls. This is the story of Christmas that God wanted to tell and wants us to live, in order to make room for the Christ child to be born in our souls on Christmas Day.

The world has given us other stories, like the story of a chubby man who somehow fits down a chimney, but never gets dirty, and has reindeer that fly. It’s a cute tale, very fanciful and fun, but has little to do with St. Nicolas, a Catholic bishop who lived in what is now Turkey around 280 AD, and nothing to do with reality.

God’s true story and the world’s fabricated tale now compete for our attention. One captures perhaps the greatest moment in human history when the Savior of the world came to dwell among us; the other conflates a father’s poem to his kids—”‘Twas the night before Christmas…” with an artist’s rendering of jolly Saint Nick, a round bearded man who started off wearing green.

One brings salvation and transcendent peace; the other ignites the world into a frenzy of consumerism. Nowadays in North America, Santa is clearly running forward at a fast speed to cross the finish line as the winner, with little baby Jesus left behind in the manger. Just look at any drug store shelf at Christmas time and see what story is for sale. This overshadowing of God’s only Son aggravated a Christian pastor to the point of inspiring him to write the song, “Santa Claus never died for anybody’s sin, and the Easter bunny never rose again.”

For us, the question is, Which story will we allow to captivate us and our imaginations – and the imaginations of our children?

Two competing stories vie to take center stage in many American holidays: Baby Jesus versus Santa, The Resurrected Jesus versus the Easter Bunny, All Saint’s Eve versus ghosts and demons, St. Valentine versus Hallmark—and we can clearly see who’s winning. Our minds can only hold and celebrate one story at a time, not two.

The story that we choose to celebrate and live will affect the story that God is able to write with our life. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, one who chose well, said many times,

I am like a little pencil in his hand.

This Advent, take a moment to meditate and ponder over the wondrous miracle of coming of Christ, and let this true story help you to wash away any false tales, distractions, or fantasies that vie for your time and imagination and move you onto pages God has not chosen. Arise this Christmas with the story in your heart that Jesus wants to write with you.

 Copyright 2014 Christine Watkins

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