Santa Clause is based on St. Nicholas, a venerated bishop from the 4th century. He had a penchant for leaving anonymous gifts. Of course then parents grabbed this idea, and Coca Cola grabbed this idea and Car companies and other marketing…totally corrupted this idea and now we worship an idea very far removed from the actual guy. Or not… If you believe that Santa Clause is the embodiment of charity and love in the season of Christmas, then what he looks like and what he advertises has no bearing.
And Christmas? It’s a holiday purloined by the church. If you’re going to convert pagans, pick a holiday that they already like and put your stamp on it. We know the story of Christmas and the miraculous birth of Jesus, we just don’t know when it happened. It doesn’t matter really. The fact that He WAS born into humanity is the miracle, not the specific day. Nowhere in the bible does it say, “And they gathered together in Bethlehem as was their custom for Jesus and his family to celebrate His birthday on the 3rd day of the 7th month with cake and candles and presents.” If they had, wouldn’t the people have known where he came from? In John 8, they were saying the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem, and this Jesus, doesn’t he come from Nazareth? Of course they didn’t ask him… I wonder if they might have changed their minds if they had asked.
So when did you stop believing in Santa Clause? I was watching “The Santa Clause” starring Tim Allen last night. It seems that the other cast members stopped believing in Santa Clause when they asked for something from him and he didn’t deliver. Why would you stop believing in Santa just because he didn’t prove to be a vending machine? Put in your letter, get what you want. The real St. Nick discovered the most important need and provided. He is supposed to have given dowry money to a man whose 3 daughters would never be married without help from a benefactor. Girls in that age whose fathers could not afford a dowry were relegated to prostitution. Even if they did not become prostitutes, they would be assumed to be prostitutes because they were unmarried. St. Nicholas did not deliver toys or video games or cars, he gave them a gift that would save their lives and reputations. If you asked a parent for something that wasn’t in your best interest, or was too expensive, or just plain foolish, and you didn’t get it, would you stop believing in your parents? No. They’re right there! Belief in the St. Nick that brings toys and goodies in a sleigh with reindeer is believing in the hype from a poem and a Coca Cola advertisement.
If, however, you believe in the Spirit of Love and Giving, what difference does it make what he wears, where he lives, and how he gets around? What difference does it make what day he delivers his blessings? The thing is, this Spirit of Love and Giving is in each and every one of us. Giving and Love aren’t as special when they’re an every day thing. But if you have a season where you’re encouraged to give special gifts, show a little extra charity, and remind those you love that you Love them, it focuses your thoughts. It makes it easier to be kind and giving the rest of the year.
We know our parents are not vending machines, nor is Santa Clause. Do we not believe in Jesus because we’re supposed to get anything we ask for in prayer and sometimes he says, “No” or “Not yet?” Jesus isn’t a vending machine either. There’s a scene in the “Santa Clause” movie where the psychologist is questioning his son: “Have you ever seen a reindeer fly?” “Yes.” “Well I haven’t!” “Have you ever seen a million dollars?” “No.” “Just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” And there’s another quote where the elf, Judy, is explaining belief to Scott Calvin (Tim Allen). Scott says, “I see it but I don’t believe it.” “Seeing is not believing, Believing is Seeing.” What this means is that he wouldn’t be able to see what he was seeing unless he believed it could exist. The fact that he Could see the Polar Bear directing traffic indicates that deep in his heart, he knew such a thing existed.
If you believe in something, you see it everywhere. If you believe in a Santa Clause, you see giving miracles all over because you look for them. If you believe in UFO’s you see them in the night sky, in the day, in your garage… If you believe in Jesus, and His message, and His sacrifice, you can’t not see Him everywhere. Believing is seeing. Open your spiritual eyes and believe, then you will see.
In the Miracle on 34th Street, (the most recent one) the Judge delivers his verdict by using a dollar bill and compares Santa Clause to God. I realize I have done the same thing in this message. That is not my intention. I don’t want to elevate Santa Clause to a deity, but explain how belief in an idea or Spirit can change your very being. The final scene was more effective in the 1st version of the movie where the post office delivers millions of children’s letters to the courthouse because that is where Santa is. It was showing the belief of children (who have to believe so many things because they cannot see for themselves) and in the children inside of us. You tell a child that the moon goes around the earth, and they believe. They can look up and see you’re right. Then you tell a child that the sun does NOT go around the earth–the earth goes around the sun. They believe, and then, much later, they can understand. They will never see the earth going around the sun. We all believe the earth goes around the sun, and we have never seen or felt it move. Belief is essential to our human race. I believe in Jesus and…
I believe in Santa Clause.