Lectionary Readings for today:
Morning Psalms 50; 147:1-11
Evening Psalms 53; 17
25He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the
emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Luke 20:25
“Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus lane…”
Ah, the sounds of Christmas…no, wait…it is Advent season…
“Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set they people free…”
Ah, yes, Advent Carols! Music to my ears…
The annual question of Christmas vs Holiday Season is upon us. To what or whom do we give our loyalty? Is the Advent & Christmas season about Santa Claus, or about the coming of Jesus Christ into the world?
As Christians, it is easy for us to answer to one another, “Christmas is about Christ…duh…it has the word ‘Christ’ right there in the word!” Yet this tension remains in our culture outside of our churches – and sometimes between different churches – over the Christmas Holidays…or the Holiday Season.
The truth is, we live in the same kind of world that Jesus lived in. Jesus was a Jew living in a Roman culture with Greek influence that did not ordinarily approve of religions that did not worship the Roman Emperor. While the Jews were given special leeway in this regard, Jesus was upsetting both the Roman and Jewish authorities with his teachings. The Jewish authorities tried to trap Jesus by asking him a “no-win” question, which was an attempt to force him to either blaspheme the God of the Jews and celebrate the Roman Emperor, or publicly denounce the Roman Emperor and worship the God of the Jews. Jesus astonished them all with his wise and reasoned response.
As Christians, we celebrate the hope and promise of the birth of Jesus Christ throughout the Advent Season, light candles on Christmas Eve, and joyfully sing “Gloria” at the Christmas birth. As people of our culture, we stand in parades and wave at Santa Claus, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “The Santa Clause”, & “A Christmas Carol”, and hang stockings above the fireplace. Jesus lived in both worlds, and so can we. To be a Christian is not to denounce Santa Claus; and to “believe” in Santa Claus is not to blaspheme Jesus Christ.
Someone may try to question you on whether your loyalty is to Santa or Jesus because you have a Santa in your yard and a star hanging from your porch. But you live in both worlds, and can be in both worlds, and can “give to [Santa and the American consumeristic culture] the things that are [theirs’], and to God the things that are God’s.” Worship the Lord with gladness. Take your kids to see Santa. Use wisdom and discernment in your choices. Love everyone.
Come, Lord Jesus.
God, prepare our hearts as we await the coming of your son, Jesus, in the midst of this world who does not always welcome him. Grant us the strength to love more and argue less.
Rev. Jay Banasiak