Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Claus or Christ?

 One comes on reindeer and a sleigh; the other comes on the clouds with fire. One is rotund and hale of health; the other is omnipotent and immortally eternal. One knows if you have been naughty or nice; the other knows your sins, your good deeds, your thoughts, your future. One offers toys, candy, or coal; the other offers life and eternity. One lowers himself down dirty chimneys to deliver gifts; the other lowered himself down to dirty earth to be killed. One lives at the top of the world; the other lives above and beyond the universe. Yet, despite the glaring differences between the two, Santa Claus and Christ compete every year for possession of the same day: Christmas.
     Although the character of Santa Claus originated in a Christian man's gracious act of love and kindness (see the story of St. Nicholas), the jolly, tuft-bearded man is now a competitor for the attention Christmas originally was created to give to Christ. Over the years, as secularism has become a part of all Christian holidays, Santa has become the main focus for Christmas; Claus has become the celebrated emblem of everything Christmas'y: jolliness, warmth, gift giving, and plenty of food (His waist size is a 50). Unfortunately,  Santa is the accepted emblem, and the true focus of the holiday is missed.
     As the name implies, Christmas is about Christ. The name derives from the Old English of Christ's Mass. Christmas originated with the early church, who looked for a day to celebrate the miraculous occurrence of God coming to earth. Since the beginning of the holiday, Christ has always been the main focus of Christmas; at least until several decades ago.
     But what is wrong with letting Santa take some of the limelight? After all, he is a harmless old man who has elves as personal slaves, right? (Alright--the elves are not his slaves...and he pays them. But they probably came over the border somewhere, right?) The crux of the matter is that Santa represents consumerism, and Christ represents eternity. The nature of Santa is gift giving, and we all know that he doesn't make anything himself; no: the parents buy all the loot, then give him the credit. Buying, buying, buying is the requirement for Santa to stay in business: if the parents don't buy for their kids, then Santa obviously didn't deliver on Christmas Eve. The problem with consumerism? Toys, games, chocolates and wine last no more than a few years. However, Christ is eternal. Celebration of Him requires no money, no toys, no surviving of Black Friday pepper spray. The joy in celebrating his arrival on earth never grows old or rotten.
     Another thing: why do we celebrate Santa Claus on Christ's birthday? After all, we don't celebrate Bill Clinton on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, do we?

   A man cannot serve two masters--choose this day whom you will celebrate: Claus or Christ?