No, not the annoying Santa that arrives the day after Halloween in your local Walmart store. Not, the Santa that’s hawking used cars on late night TV commercials. Not the Santa Claus that peddles the lie to kids “that the more stuff you have the happier you’ll be.” I’m not talking about that Santa Claus.
I’m talking about the Santa Claus that showed up at LifeSpace in Horn Lake on Saturday. I’m talking about the Santa Claus that invited more than a 100 kids to have their pictures taken with him, all for free. I’m talking about the Santa Claus who freely gives joy and laughter, smiles and yes . . . a couple of photo’s too.
A free picture with Santa may not seem like much to you and me unless your mom is serving in the military overseas, or you’re dad can’t come home because he’s in prison, or the dollars they charge at the mall is just too much for your family budget to send even one picture to grandma.
We’ve all of those stories over the last seven years at the what has now become tradition) CrossRoad Free Pictures with Santa Day. “Free” just demonstrates grace. A gift given without expectation of anything in return.
But why do it? Why would Christians even mess around with Santa? Becauze that’s what Jesus did . . . freely give, and because Santa became a doorway for people to meet Jesus. This weekend, more than a hundred kids (and their families) from all over North Mississippi and Memphis left LifeSpace with a lot more than a photo with Santa. They left with a book that told the real story of Christmas. They left with a copy of Jesus’ story in the Gospel of John. They left with an invitation to come back often to learn more about Jesus (yes, that’s right not Santa Claus.)
History tells us that the true story of Santa Claus begins with a wealthy young man named Nicholas, who was born during the third century in Greece. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God. Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Nicholas understood the heart of Jesus’ message was freely giving. That’s why I believe in Santa Claus too!.