Tag Archives: incarnation

Santa: Desperate for Faith

A Santa Desperate for Faith

A Santa Desperate for Faith

My wife and I have enjoyed watching a number of Christmas movies over the last few weeks. Now that we’ve come to Christmas Eve, our time is short if we want to squeeze in the last couple of “must see” films!

Last night, we watched the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street, which is one of my favorites. I was reflecting on the plight of Santa depicted there.

Time again, Santa refers to his necessary quest to get people to believe in him. He has to convince wounded, skeptical Mrs Walker to believe so that her daughter can believe.

My thoughts then turned to other Santa films. In 2003’s movie Elf, Santa has had to install a jet engine on his sleigh because there isn’t enough Christmas spirit (faith) in the world in order to make it fly. When a Central Park crowd sings a rousing version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, the “clausometer” (a measure of Christmas spirit) goes off the charts and Santa’s sleigh begins to fly without the rocket propulsion.

In 2002, The Santa Clause 2, finds Tim Allen as Santa Claus is desperate to convince a woman that Santa is real…so that he can get married and fulfill the requirement for there to be a Mrs Claus. Throughout the film, he struggles through the “de-Santification process” and the using up of his magic as his powers dissipate.

In all three of these cases, Santa Claus is in a somewhat desperate position to maintain his own existence. He’s basically running scared. Without the faith of the people of the world, he loses significance and power…which will lead to his own demise and the loss of joy for millions of children.

I’m thankful that the God we celebrate at this time of year is not in such a predicament. Jesus Christ did not come because people were starting to forget about God and He needed to do something really radical in order to awaken their faith. God did not act out of fear for His own existence when He sent His Son to earth. It wasn’t an act of self-preservation that motivated His activity.

Rather than trying to build up His faith ratings and maintaining His magical powers, God’s move in sending His Son was for our benefit. God wanted to be near us, and for us to be near to Him.

Santa visits earth every year, and yet still one movie plot after another emphasizes that people tend to forget him. He is desperate for people to believe, but often times seems satisfied if people believe in the idea of Santa Claus, rather than specifically in the person himself. He’s not looking to relate to people directly, but rather to keep the dream alive. In Miracle on 34th Street, Santa is willing to be locked in a psychiatric hospital in order to preserve the good name of Santa, even while separating himself from that identity.

But God isn’t satisfied with selling people on a disembodied belief. He wants relationship. When people don’t believe, He is saddened…but He’s not ontologically in jeopardy. God desires faith from the world because He desires relationship with the world.

On the other hand, Santa is desperate for faith from the world because he ceases to exist without it.

How will we use our faith this Christmas? To maintain the flight capability of an arctic jolly old elf? Or to engage in relationship with the true Father of Christmas?


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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Reviews


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Coming? He’s Here.

Appropriately enough, I’ve been thinking this season about celebrating the coming of Jesus Christ.

Certainly, this idea of the Incarnation–of God becoming man in order to reveal Himself to us and to remove the barriers to relationship between us and Him–is a significant one for Christianity. The fact that God would humble Himself so that He might relate to us is rather incredible; the fact that He would suffer and die for that relationship even more so.

But while this certainly is a season of celebration, it raises a question for me.

Christians believe that, although Jesus has ascended and returned to His Father’s side, God the Holy Spirit continues to dwell among us, within us. Jesus heralded this as a significant state of affairs, stating that it was better for Him to leave and for the Holy Spirit to take up an abiding place with us here on earth (John 16:7).

I absolutely think that we should rehearse and celebrate the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; that’s Easter. But why do we make so much of Christmas, of His birth as a baby? It was indeed significant that God came to earth, but Jesus is not now with us in the same way, and instead the Holy Spirit is with us–which is apparently (by Jesus’ words) even better. Why don’t we instead celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit? (Some churches do, at Pentecost, which is 7 weeks after Easter.)

This is a season about coming and our preparation. He has come; let’s be grateful and consider the impact of the life and resurrection of Jesus on us. And He is coming back.

But He’s also here right now. God is with us right now.

We love the name of God, “Immanuel“–God with us. But when we use that name, we tend to focus on Jesus, that He came to be with us. But God is still with us, and not just in the sense that He cares about us from a distance and supports us. He is with us now in a way more intimate and near than when Jesus came to earth in a manger. The Holy Spirit has taken up His residence in us. Where’s the holiday to celebrate that?

I’m not a Grinch or a Scrooge; I enjoy the celebration of Christmas, and I am grateful that God took the necessary step to come here Himself and to sort out our mess. But if we only ever look back at the time 2000 years ago when God was coming, when He was present with us, and never reflect on that fact that He’s here today in an even more significant way, then I think we miss something.

Let this time of Advent, of Christmas, remind us that Jesus came and that He’s coming again, but also that God is present with His people even now. We needn’t only look back or look ahead; we can look right here. We are not a people who have only experienced God in history and who only hope to see Him again in eternity.





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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


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