What use is Santa?

What a question! He’s the man who makes it all possible with his sleigh and his reindeer and his bag full of goodies. He’s the face that beams out of Christmas cards and wrapping paper. He’s the centrepiece of children’s parties. He fills the hearts of children the world over with a glow of expectation and wonder. How could I even ask such a question?

Yet at the end of the day he’s a jolly old man who once a year puts gifts under the Christmas tree and then hops off to the next house to repeat the exercise. He has no time to sit with you when you’re lonely. He can’t mop your brow when you’re sick or in pain. He can’t still your beating heart while you sit at the bed of a loved one. He can’t put an arm around you when you’re weeping at a graveside. He can’t hold your hand when you’re sunk in the depth of depression with no apparent way out. You see he doesn’t understand any of these things. His job is to deliver presents.

There is of course another character associated with Christmas, He’s not quite as famous as Santa these days but he’s still there for those who desire to look. How does Jesus stack up with Santa? Does he offer anything better? Well Christians believe that he came from Heaven rather than the North Pole. It wasn’t a flying 24 hour visit either! He allowed himself to be born as a helpless baby to a poor family. He was homeless initially. Later he spent two years as a refugee in a foreign land. He knew all the pressures of living in a poor family at a time when there was no social security net. He spent three years teaching people about the love of God, healing the sick and feeding the poor. Loved by some he was virulently hated by others, especially the religious establishment. In fact they eventually nailed him to a cross so desperate were they to get rid of him. He endured it all. Fear, rejection, exhaustion, pain and grief. He endured what we endure. Yet Christians believe that three days after his death he rose again, defeating death and offering everlasting life to all who believe in him. A bit more than Santa.

Oh and by the way. He also said, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”. Unlike Santa he does promise to be with us, even in our darkest moments, if we let him.