Today's Devotions

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Showcase: Eugene Peterson

  • Eugene Peterson was one of America’s most beloved preachers. Let’s not miss his last sermon. +

    Eugene Peterson, the internationally best-selling Christian author who passed into the great unknown this week, Read More
  • Eugene Peterson: 2009 Book of Faith Jubilee +

    Peterson discussed a wide range of topics with Diane Jacobson, Read More
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I guess, as a Christian, I am supposed to be going around pointing out to everyone that Jesus is "the reason for the season," but I almost think that would be kinda grinchy, right? And I think I'm supposed to hold some sort of grudge against Santa for stealing the Baby Jesus's thunder, but frankly, I just don't have it in me.

As Christians like to point out, Santa was born from a combination of traditions, including the legends of Saint Nicholas, a Turkish 4th-century Christian bishop with a penchant for secret gift-giving. So he's got that going for him, as far as grinchy Christians go...
Santa - what's not to like?!
I actually kind of like Santa. I mean, what's not to like? He's jolly, he gives presents... and for some reason, this year, I've begun to see something else in the anticipation of his coming... It seems to me like an echo of our longing for Christ's return. I mean, the whole first half of the Bible Israel is waiting, waiting, waiting... "How long?!" they would cry out... waiting for God's Messiah... like we are during every Advent. Fortunately for us, our waiting is merely symbolic. We're just lighting candles and reading passages every Sunday at church. The promised Messiah has already come! 
So instead, we wait for a fat man in a red suit to bring us an iPod or, as the irritating kid in Polar Express says, some "stupid underwear." The anticipation now starts before Thanksgiving, thanks to modern retailers and their over-enthusiastic advertising. "Hey, kids! Let's go ahead and start waiting for Christmas!" But the truth is, I'm always waiting for Christmas. 
Saint Nicholas
Not the coming of the jolly old elf, or even the coming of my Deliver - because that's already happened... No, I'm waiting for... something I can't really put my finger on... For ALL of God's promises to be fulfilled in every way...? Or maybe it's just heaven I'm waiting for? To actually see God face to face? One of the "waiting" Psalms actually says, "When will I see God?" and I have to say, I know exactly what that guy meant. I have a fantastic life down here, with much to recommend it, but frankly, the anticipation of what's to come is always kind of lurking in the back of my mind. Not in any morose or suicidal way, just... I'm looking forward to what comes next. To being back in the arms of Jesus, Lover of My Soul, as the old hymn says.
Our life on earth is full of signs and symbols, and I have decided to crown Santa the symbol of joyful waiting - also known as "hope." On the other hand, I also realize that not everyone has the same experience with this jolly generous soul. To some people, maybe he's a symbol of disappointment. In another song on that album A Very Special Christmas 3, Run DMC and a bunch of other rap artists weave together a bunch of Christmas in the ghetto tales, to produce a poignant song of Christmas disappointment... The blessing is, though, the artists who made this song know where to turn in their disappointment.
Our Advent Calender dispenses chocolate!
Christmas is about a lot of things -
waiting is one of them.
"Santa Baby, are you really real? / Chris Kringle /Let me see you make my pockets jingle  / We need some jobs in the ghetto / Too much gangbanging where kids are playin / I hear the church bells ringing / On Christmas Eve / I believe / Jesus-calling me / Forget the gifts and the shopping lists / And the new kicks / Your just falling for tricks / (you better praise him)"
You see, if Santa is all that you are waiting for, it's possible you will be disappointed. Because, of course, the version of Santa you get depends largely on your economic means. But if it's a Messiah you're waiting for, well - 1. He's already come and 2. He's coming back. 3. He doesn't care how much money you have. 


In fact, this is one situation where all the money in the world will not help you. In fact, Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Fortunately, for the rich, He follows it with this: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19) To which I say, "Whew." Because Jesus came to shepherds... and also to kings.

Reflections to Consider

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Publications

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Music

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Audio & Video

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Favorites

  • Eugene Peterson was one of America’s most beloved preachers. Let’s not miss his last sermon. +

    Eugene Peterson, the internationally best-selling Christian author who passed into the great unknown this week, Read More
  • Eugene Peterson: 2009 Book of Faith Jubilee +

    Peterson discussed a wide range of topics with Diane Jacobson, Read More
  • Eugene Peterson: Journey with Jonah: Part 1 +

    This is part 1 of a 3 part series of lectures Eugene Peterson Read More
  • Eugene Peterson: Journey with Jonah: Part 2 +

    This is part 2 of Eugene Peterson's 1991 Simpson lecture Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • God's Healing Touch by Sylvia Gunter +

    Listen to God's word for you in Isaiah 42:3. "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick Read More
  • The Healing Day by Bill Fay +

    It will be okay on the healing dayno more coldest placeon the healing day Read More
  • Inner Healing by Judith MacNutt +

    The following is a clip from a teaching at the MacNutt's Level I School. While brief, it provides a good Read More
  • Healing Ministry & Spiritual Warfare by Judith MacNutt +

    Judith MacNutt on the relationship between spiritual warfare and healing ministry. Read More
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