JESUS, HALLMARK, AND SANTA
By DANNY MINTON
Christmas time is here! It seems to come around the same time every year as far as I can remember. The only difference, it comes faster nowadays than it did when I was five. It’s a time when families get together, exchange gifts, laugh together, play games, and sometimes cry a little.
You drive down the street and see beautiful displays of lights and figures adorning the front yards of once dark homes. Through the windows, you see trees decorated in bright, colorful ornaments and gleaming tinsel. So far, I’ve only put up four in our home. By the time you read this, it may be five or even six. Last year it was seven.
I’ve seen posted several times the phrase, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” The holiday has always, for as long as I can remember, been known as “Jesus’ Birthday.” No one really knows the exact date he was born, but this is the date churches have chosen to recognize the beginning of the gift from God. It upsets some people that “Christmas” has been commercialized and seems to be more about the secular world and the man with the red suit and white beard, named Santa, than about Jesus.
Hallmark has been showing Christmas movies since the first of November and even had a few in July. I know people who despise them, basically because most have the same theme. Someone has lost the meaning of Christmas and seeks to find it in some small town where they grew up or at least heard about it from someone. While there, they fall in love with someone they just met or had known in school. Then, about the time things are going well, an old love shows up to win them back. The new love sees the old love with their new love and assumes that they are now back with the old love. At the end, after a song, the two new loves get together, and everything turns out OK with the joy of the holiday season in the air.
You go to any mall and find somewhere that man in the red suit named Santa Claus. Children are lined up to tell him what gifts they want for Christmas. His picture is everywhere. Aisles of Santa figures, pictures, and ornaments appear row after row. You can’t go anywhere without seeing the jolly old elf. Santa has appeared in more TV shows and movies than any other character in history. I have no proof of this, but it seems obvious. With few exceptions, he is a symbol of giving and bringing people together during the holidays.
Let’s go back to the phrase mentioned earlier, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Although it’s the birth of Jesus celebrated this time of year, we really celebrate why he came. He came to bring peace to a broken world. He came to bring people together. He came giving, caring, and loving.
When you stop and think about it, as much as you may dislike Hallmark’s overselling of their movies, they still carry the “reason for the season.” They bring out why Jesus came to this small planet. The same is with the man with the white beard. He represents what Jesus wants from mankind. He wants us to be giving, loving, and caring. This time of the year is probably the only time of the year that the majority of people think about giving at the same time.
Why is everyone in this mood? What’s the reason? “Jesus is the reason for the season!” So every time you watch a “sappy” movie or see that Santa figure, stop and remember they represent the very reason Jesus came to this earth, to draw people of all generations, colors, and nationalities, not only closer to God, but closer together.
“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14 (NASB)
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ.