13
Dec
21

Jesus and Santa

An image of Jesus thought to be more realistic, based on archaeological records of the people from that
place and time.

On our morning walk today, I saw a sign in a neighbor’s front yard that read: “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.”

And being the eager Jesus follower I am, I responded with a hearty, “Heck yeah! That’s right, brother/sister/non-binary ally, whoever you are! You’re telling some serious truth right there.”

In that moment, I was caught up in that perennial Yuletide fervor that requires Christians to moan and wail about the gross commercialization of “our” sacred season. “Fie on Santa and his elves and all of their heathen merry-making! People need to focus a lot MORE on the story of God’s miraculous, world-changing incarnation and a lot LESS on finding the best recipe for homemade EGGNOG!”

And of course, that is all true.

But what if… what if it turned out that there was a way for Jesus and Santa to peacefully coexist at this time of year? What if really IS a place for Santa and tinsel and cookies and all those other “trappings” of the Christmas season alongside the manger of Bethlehem? I mean, what if ONE face of the Christmas season did not necessarily have to negate the OTHER?

Pictures of Real Santa Claus

How would that work, exactly?

I think it just might start with the recognition of all the ways that COMMERCIAL Christmas and HOLY Christmas overlap. For example, both celebrate the spirit of GIVING. Both accentuate LIGHT overcoming DARKNESS. And both of them make the FAMILY the center of attention, right?

I am sure this list goes on and on, but the point I am trying to make is: Jesus and Santa might not be quite the adversaries we usually depict them to be. In fact, with Santa’s eternally jolly nature and Jesus’ inclination to love his neighbor as himself, they might even get along quite famously!

However… in spite of the considerable areas of “missional overlap,” there really is one area where Jesus and Santa drastically diverge. And that is the area of THE GIFTS THEY COME TO BRING US. 

In this area, the differences between the two could not be starker.

That’s because Santa comes to fulfill temporal wishes.

 Jesus comes to bring eternal hope.

Temporal wishes are the things you write down on the list that you give to your loved ones (sorry… I mean that you send to the North Pole). They include things like a new FitBit, a new power saw, warm socks, a KC Chiefs stocking hat, and a kayak.

These things may or may not come. If they do, you feel kind of, “joyful and triumphant,” don’t you? 

… for about three days.

If they don’t come (like the new basketball I asked for when I was ten), you feel left out… ignored… forgotten.

Eternal hope, on the other hand, is a totally different kind of gift. The word “eternal” is probably an obvious clue about the nature of this gift. It is the gift that REALLY keeps on giving! It is good NOW, TOMORROW and keeps on being good for your entire life (and beyond!).

It is also available to EVERYONE. Not just those who have a rich benefactor. 

And finally, it is the gift that is perfect for all who receive it. It isn’t made for just one size, shape, or color person. 

I am glad there is a time of year set aside for us to give one another little trinkets and gewgaws that come wrapped with pretty paper and bows. If not for Christmas, I might never get the cool clothes Joan likes to buy me.

But I will be forever grateful that God loved me enough to send the one thing that He knew I really needed…

HOPE eternal.

HOPE incarnate. 

HOPE beyond HOPE…

In other words, his only begotten son.

Abundant blessings;


15 Responses to “Jesus and Santa”


  1. 1 Carol Congalton
    December 14, 2021 at 3:27 am

    Well said Sir!

  2. December 14, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    Russell, I love this! I’m most thankful for the gift of Christ, indeed! And seeing Santa as an ally just makes perfect sense. I can hear the conversation between them now! Well-said and written! ❤️🌲

  3. December 15, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:
    My Feature Blogger this week is Russell Brown of Russelings of the Spirit. I’ve featured Russ before because, well, I just plain like the guy. But ALSO because this “retired Methodist pastor, father, grandfather, stumbler, seeker, and servant” always–always–has something worthy and wise to say.

  4. December 15, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    I confess., the commercialization of this Holy “holiday” drives me nuts. Reading your article has caused me to back off a bit on the poor attitude of the shopping madness during this season. Thank you for the wise words and wisdom and have a very Merry and blessed Christmas.

  5. December 15, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    St. Nicholas was a man orphaned at an early age. He loved Jesus, loved children, and loved to give – anonymously whenever possible. There are some touching legends about him, maybe true, maybe not. But the bottom line is, the original “Santa Claus” would never seek the spotlight. His loving, giving way of life pointed to Jesus. When our kids were growing up, they learned about the historical St. Nicholas, the man who loved Jesus, and “Santa Claus,” a fun game we play in his memory at the holidays.

    • December 15, 2021 at 10:30 pm

      That is a great legacy of faith to pass along to your children. Well done! The other, important difference between Jesus and Santa (as another blogger pointed out to me) is that Santa’s gifts are often thought of as conditionally given. You get a gift if you are on the “nice” list, but you don’t get one if you are “naughty.” Praise God our Heavenly Father does not keep a “naughty and nice” list!


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