Summary: Sermon 1 of 4: What would Santa say about the way we celebrate Christmas today?
What Would Santa Say?
The following sermon is credited to one Matthew Rogers has posted on SermonCentral under the same title. I very much enjoyed his message and personalized it for our church.
For the next four Sunday mornings leading up to Christmas, I want to bring a series of messages that will hopefully raise some questions in your mind concerning the holiday we celebrate and the way we do. I want to bring four persons into our presence by asking the question, "What Would (this individual) Say?" This morning we are going to ask that of dear old Saint Nick.
The legend of jolly old St. Nick, or Santa Claus, began with a real person: a man history has come to name St. Nicholas, a Christian who lived many centuries ago. Very little is known about St. Nicholas with great certainty, except that during the early part of the 4th century he was the bishop of the church of Myra, a city on the southern coast of Asia Minor.
Tradition says that St. Nicholas was put in prison because of his faith during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor, Diocietian. He was later released when Constantine the Great became emperor and proclaimed Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire and accepted faith for himself. I use Christian and Christianity loosely here, as the historical accounts of the early Catholic church as being Christian. Because of his reputation for generosity and compassion St. Nicholas has come to exemplify the spirit of giving at Christmas time.
His transformation into Santa Claus began in Germany among Protestant churches where he was called Kriss Kringle, derived from Christkindle, which means Christ child. Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam introduced the legend to America. They knew of him as Sint Nikolaas or Sinter Klaas, which soon became known here as Santa Claus. Our modern day conception of Santa and the myth surrounding him with red suit, reindeer, sleigh and portly size originated in the 1800’s here in America through the stories of Washington Irving, the cartoons of Thomas Nast and the 1822 poem by Clement Moore, which begins, "Twas the night before Christmas…"
If Santa were here with us today, what might he tell us about how to celebrate Christmas? I think he might tell us to …
Take a Look at Your Focus
In many homes today, even in many of ours, there are really two holidays that are celebrated on December 25th: Christmas and X-mas. What many of us have done too is to combine the two, so that we have the best of both worlds.
Every December the shopping season is marked with people braving all sorts of weather, some will take off work, others will miss church services and do all sorts of things to get ready for X-mas. They will look for cards and gifts for their relatives and friends. We’ll spend money we don’t have to buy presents for people we hardly get along with and decorate our homes and lawns and so forth. But as the month wears on, the preparation begins to take its toll. Many will grow tired and ready for it all to be over with. There will be some who continue on even under tremendous strain. We’ll overeat, stay up too late and make ourselves sick trying to pull off the day.
But listen, that’s X-mas. Christmas takes place on the same day, but it is difficult to celebrate for all the distraction of X-mas. Remember the holiday classic by Dr. Suess, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas?" In his story, the Grinch steals all the presents, decorations and food in the little town of Whoville on Christmas Eve. By doing this he thought he could prevent Christmas from coming. But sitting alone with all the things he stole up on top of a hill overlooking the town, a strange thing happened. Christmas still came. Why? Because Christmas comes without the presents, the decorations and the food. Just like many other people, the Grinch was confused. He didn’t steal Christmas, he stole X-mas.
I know that it is difficult and I’m not calling for anybody to be a radical fanatic and boycott our Christmas traditions, but I think we need to make a conscientious and disciplined effort as children of God at this time of year to keep the focus of December 25th on Christmas – the coming of our Savior into this world in a miraculous birth rather than on X-mas.
If you didn’t get a single present – you could still celebrate the day for all it is intended to be – a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You won’t find Him prominently displayed in many of the stores you visit during the next few weeks. You see, the focus of that holiday isn’t on Jesus.