Today's Devotions

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Showcase: N.T. Wright

  • Transforming this World: The Hope of Glory by NT Wright +

    Wright confronts the perspective that this world doesn’t matter, and that we live only to be in heaven. He shows Read More
  • What is Good in a World that Defies Hope: a talk by NT Wright +

    This is the second part of three talks by NT Wright at Harvard University in November, 2008 on the topic 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

  • Mysterious and Unknown: Our Great God Fernando Ortega +

    Eternal God, unchanging Mysterious and unknown Your boundless love unfailing In grace and mercy shown Bright seraphim in ceaseless flight Read More
  • Our Great God by Fernando Ortega +

    Eternal God, unchangingMysterious, and unknownYour boundless love, unfailingIn grace and mercy shownBright seraphim in endless flightAround Your glorious throneThey raise Read More
  • This is my Father's world by Fernando Ortega +

    This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of Read More
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty by Fernando Ortega +

    Praise to the Lord, the AlmightyThe King of creationO my soul, praise HimFor He is thy health and salvationAll ye Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • The Surprise of His Love: Psalm 90 +

    Surprise us with love at daybreak; Read More
  • Reflections on the Psalms +

    C.S. Lewis' book, Reflections on the Psalms, is not an easy read, but Lewis provides a poet's insight into the Read More
  • Climbing the Mountain: CH Spurgeon, Psalm 24 +

    A Sermon (No. 396) Delivered on Sunday Morning, June the 16th, 1861 by the Rev. C. H. SPURGEON, At the Read More
  • July 29 Devotional: Psalm 19:1 +

    The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1 ESV) Read More
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