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Adults Only!

posted Dec 17, 2014, 10:02 AM by Pastor Chuck   [ updated Dec 17, 2014, 10:17 AM ]
This blog is for adults and youth ONLY.  If your are a child, this one article is not for you.  Close this site immediately and DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.  You will be disappointed if you do!  Turn around!  Go back!  Don't read any further!  You've been warned!  Stop Now!  Before it is too late! 

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about my topic.  The topic of today's blog is Santa Claus.  I heard that "awwww" of disappointment.  You were maybe expecting something more exciting?  What could be more exciting at Christmas than Santa Claus?  
Actually my blog is about more than just Santa Claus.  It is not a debate about Santa or even telling your children about Santa.  No, my concern goes much deeper.  For you see, I believe that Santa Claus is a useful tool in our culture.  As strange as it sounds, I believe that every Pastor ought to play the role of Santa Claus at least once each Christmas.  Hear me out on this one.

(Beware: This is the adults only part)  
This year, I was blessed with the privilege of playing the role of Santa Claus in our Alpine Christmas Village.  I shared the time with Gary Lee, Troy Smart, and Henry Tomlinson.  We each worked different shifts on different days.  It was a delightful time and a part of the Christmas Village I greatly enjoyed.  Let me tell you my back story.  

Years ago, before Becky and I were married, I worked for Sears to get through college.  My first fall at Sears was spent building the toy department.  I was then informed that I would be the store's Santa Claus for at least the Thanksgiving weekend.  Two ladies from the advertising department were in charge of my make up and costuming.  And on Friday morning after Thanksgiving, I was taken to the headquarters of the High Point Fire Department.  From there I road "into  town" on a hook and ladder truck as Santa arrived at Sears to kickoff the Christmas season.  And that is how I became a professional Santa Claus.  I walked around the store and sat at my "north pole" station listening to what children desired for Christmas.  Except for preaching, that was the most fun I have had working in my entire life.  For a week, hundreds of children told me what they wanted for Christmas while some others simply cried and refused to sit on my lap or have anything to do with me.  

So this year it was very exciting to have another chance to play Santa Claus.  It was something I looked forward to because I really do love children.  I only made two slip ups.  Once when a sweet child asked me for a present, I almost told her "Poppaw will do his best."  But I quickly replaced Poppaw with Santa.  The other was with one of our little girls from church.  She was eating with her grandparents during our supper break and began to talk with me.  Suddenly her eyes narrowed and she said, "you were Santa at the Christmas Village."  I smiled and said surely she was mistaken.  But she insisted that it was me; she could hear it in my voice.  She knew me by my voice.  The Thomas', Becky, and I were delighted with her sharp mind and we laughed more than once at her insistence about me being Santa.  But that is not why every Pastor ought to be a Santa.

No, there is a better reason.  As I listened to the boys and girls talk with me I was spell bound by their wants and concerns.  There were the popular X-boxes, cell phones, dolls, and four-wheelers.  But every once in a while a child would ask for something unique.  It began with one little girl who asked that her Mom find a house she could live in.  The next one was a little boy who wanted to make sure everyone had enough to eat and somewhere warm to sleep.  One boy asked for peace on earth.  Even as I write these words my eyes fill with tears.  What could I say? Where is the hope for such children?  What can Santa hope to be able to deliver on such requests?  I told them we would have to pray about that.  That we would have to work on those requests.  

As I looked into the eyes of each of these little ones I could not help but remember the words of Jesus: "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the One who sent me."  So I came up with something I could say to each child at the end of our visit.  It was something that I felt like would be welcoming in Jesus' name.  I would say something like this, 
    "You know, I check my list every day.  I check it twice.  And do you know whose name I find
     on the "nice list" almost every day?"  
At this point I would get all kinds of facial expressions.  From doubt to hope to joy.  Some of the children would ask whose name I found.  Others would be silent with wonder.  A few would excitedly exclaim, "Mine!"  
I would finish with a wink, and touching the end of their noses I would say, 
    "YOURS!  I find your name on the nice list almost everyday!  Keep up the good work.  Santa 
    loves you.  And Jesus does too!  Merry Christmas!"  
And each of them would smile really big and hop down off my knee.  A little girl with special needs got so excited, that she hopped off my knee and began to dance round and round.  She stayed in front of the sled for a little while, rocking back and forth with joy and excitement.
Some of the children would tell their parents what I said.  I heard one parent tease their child, "Is he sure about that?  Maybe he made a mistake."  The child insisted I had not made a mistake.  But I wondered how many of those children would wonder if I had made a mistake about them. How many children seldom hear a word of affirmation and encouragement?  Which ones have become convinced that they simply do not measure up to someone's standard?  

In a world so full of grief and sorrow, agony and pain, hopelessness and despair, how often do our children wonder about whether or not they are loved?  Is there anything good about them?  Are they really worth all the trouble?  Does anybody really care about them"  It is my hope and prayer that God will use my little time with those children to convince them that there is something good about them that God loves!  That God sees something so good in them that He came as a little baby in a manger to be their Savior...the Savior of the whole world!  Something so worthwhile that He would die for them on a cross and rise from the grave!  Oh dear friend, may you too know that joy of Christmas!  The joy that God sees something good and worthwhile in you because He loves you!  

May God use all of our efforts in the Christmas Village to plant the seeds of the Gospel in the hearts and lives of these children and their families.  May we open the door for them to come into God's family through faith in Jesus Christ.  I had a great time being Santa.  And in my next blog, I will tell you why I think every Pastor ought to play Santa at least once in a while.  \

God loves you and I do too!  See you Sunday!