Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

What the jolly old elf has to do with the newborn King

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

He is the embodiment of the unconditional love
for which every child (and grownup) longs.
One whose all-seeing eye
sees us when we’re sleeping
and watching over us
with guardian angels at the ready.

He is that One who knows when we’re awake
and with uninterrupted knowledge
nudges us from behind
with a still small voice
indicates the way we should take.

He is that One unlike any other
who knows if we’ve been bad or good
because nothing we think or do
can escape His holy awareness.
This Santa of which I speak
cannot simply wink
at our selfish pursuits and sinful behavior.

His penchant for justice prevents cheap grace.
But because of His gift-giving nature,
this One who loves the world
refused to simply threaten us
with coal in our Christmas stockings.

This Giver of all good gifts
refused to remain distant
but dirtied Himself
by descending from the top of the world
through the chimney of our Heaven-reaching efforts
into our less-than-perfect world.

Taking the soot of our shame upon Himself,
this most benevolent lover of humanity
clothed in the red of His own blood
gave us the best gift we could ever imagine.
His presence.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!
But those who know Him
know Him by another name.
He is loved by children of all ages of every nation.
He is the proof of the Creator’s self-giving generosity
who once declared,
“Let the little children come to me.
Do not forbid them.
For to such as these belongs the Kingdom of God!”

Yes, Virginia, His name is Jesus!


The rest of the story

The one who wrote his story
and the one who did the film
were two women deeply touched by this great man.
He was crushed but was unbroken
and though given up for dead,
he discovered both God’s fingerprints and plan.

Yes, Louie Zamperini
was a prisoner in Japan.
He was tortured and abused by human hate.
But resentment didn’t break him.
He surrendered to God’s love
as he found he could forgive a sin so great.

God’s grace is what explains it.
It alone can be “the why”
someone brutalized could actually forgive.
It’s “the how” a man disfigured
by the ravages of war
could escape hates heinous prison camp and live.

How I wish the book and movie
focused more on Louie’s faith.
It is such a major part of who he was.
Louie’s story is unfinished
without mentioning his Lord.
He’s the missing link providing “the because.”

Busting the Ghosts of Christmas Past

Looking out for the lost and lonely this time of year

There are movies, meals and concerts,
special programs, lights and trees.
It’s a season when we celebrate with style.
But this month of celebration
is quite difficult for some
who disguise their private pain behind a smile.

Let’s be sensitive to others
who will still put up a tree
but for whom the joyful carols trigger tears.
Far too many are still haunted
by the ghosts of Christmas past
who will make their presence known this time of year.

While enjoying festive functions,
be alert to those nearby
for whom silent night is more than just a song.
If appropriate, invite them
to take part in what you’ve planned.
Let’s remind the lost and lonely, they belong.

Racial Unrest is Ripping Our Country Apart

Are the facts really black and white?

There’s rioting in Ferguson,
Seattle, New Orleans
Chicago, New York, Oakland and LA.
And while so many people
think the facts are black and white,
I am inclined to think they’re mostly gray.

An officer when cornered
can resort to deadly force
to confront someone who’s threatening his life.
But must he shoot to kill
instead of aiming at ones knees?
Especially when they have no gun nor knife?

And must we rush to judgment
thinking white cops are to blame
whenever someone black flees from arrest?
The growing tension’s troubling.
It’s tearing us apart.
And where it leads is anybody’s guess.

A Thanksgiving Hymn for a Divided Nation

Focusing on God instead of Ferguson, Missouri

With gratitude
we raise our hands toward Heaven
in praise and worship of the God we serve.
We have been blessed
with mercies beyond number.
God’s faithfulness exceeds what we deserve.
With hands held high,
we reach to One who loves us
much like a child who longs to be embraced.

With gratitude
we raise our hands toward Heaven
convinced our world is governed by God’s plan.
When violence
disrupts the peace we pray for,
when prejudice and fear divide our land,
with hands held high
submitting to God’s purpose,
we gratefully declare that God is love.

With gratitude
we raise our hands toward Heaven
acknowledging the One who’s in control.
We humbly bow
before our Lord and Maker
relinquishing our bodies, minds and souls.
With hands held high, we gratefully surrender
to One who works all things for God’s own good.