Advent: Santa Ruined Everything

He’s making a list,
And checking it twice,
Gonna find out
Who’s naughty and nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake

Our American obsession with Santa Claus around Christmas has ruined the Biblical Christmas story. Parents use Santa (and now his Elf-on-the-Shelf side-kick) as a parental control system. Looking for something to motivate good behavior from our children, we set up this external authority figure who has the power to dole out toys or coal based upon their behavior.

There is a war going on within our souls. One of naughtiness and niceness. Depravity and Dignity. Despair and Delight.

For all major religions and societies, we try to manage that war through moralism.
By focusing on moralism, many children transfer this fear of judgment upon their Heavenly Father. In doing so, it ruins their fundamental understanding of the Gospel.
Psalm 139 is meant to be read as a beautiful promise of God’s providential care, unlike Santa:
1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
The promise of God’s grace is that no matter how naughty or nice you are, God’s abiding presence will remain. God’s relationship with us is contra-conditional.
Jesus showed us another way to win that inner war once and for all–through Grace.
So, as Christ followers we must differentiate between the Holy Day of Christ’s mass, and the cultural celebration of Christmas. They tell two fundamentally different stories. I would suggest speaking early and often with your children on how Santa’s moralism is radically different than Jesus’ grace.

 

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