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The Magic of Christmas

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:32-33

A few years ago, when we had arrived a bit early for our Santa appointment (yes, that is right I said “appointment”, but alas I wasn’t online in time this year), we suddenly spotted Santa walking down the wing of the mall returning from his lunch break. Honestly, my heart skipped a beat. It was magical. We spotted him and he was coming our way, as jolly and gentle and large as dreams. Ellie and Chad were excited about this movie star-esque character coming straight toward them, and their mother felt the wonder too. When he stopped to talk with us, without hurry, it felt really special.

OK, so that is sad, you may be thinking. Or, how could you let Santa into the story when it is all about Jesus? And my answer, honestly, is that I’m ok with Santa in the story perhaps just as God was ok with Adam, Noah, Moses, Jonah, David and all the other types and shadows which point to Jesus. They were flawed and never God replacements, but they pointed to the flawless One who would do what they failed to do and would also do what they did but His version would be perfectly, fully and redemptively for all time.

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev. 22:12-13

I just don’t know much in adulthood that stirs up that same kind of wide-eyed, giddy, vulnerable anticipation the way a Santa approach can. But waiting for Santa and seeing him appear surely doesn’t compare with the wide eyes I will have when I see Jesus, nor the intensity of the giddy, vulnerable anticipation. The magic of Santa is about a big guy who loves kids and wants to give them toys and candy by a warm fire surrounded by family in the comfort of pajamas and a cozy living room. Is that not a sweet type and shadow of even far better things to come?

But what a self-centered view of the second coming, of resurrection and Glory, you say? Well, if stoicism was remotely Biblical and if I only mentioned the toys and candy thing, maybe…though maybe not. But, that typical image of Christmas morning is more than the part about opening gifts…it usually involves the using of the gifts, the sharing of a festive meal, family together in a relaxed way (yes, even with a squabble here and there – shadow, remember, not the final reality!) and sheltered safely, warmly and comfortably. That is a taste of good things to come. Even if distantly, it can remind my heart of the wedding feast that awaits us, the harmonious family that will live in perfect peace together, the provision of gifts that will be used in work that will be absent of toil and thorns and the warmth and security and comfort of being immediately in His presence.

So when did cynicism steal the magic of Santa? When did practicality and responsibility rob the Christmas season of its joy and wonder? When did “reality” come to mean credit card debt, family feuds and spring prom night really being excruciatingly long as it underwhelms all expectations? Is it possible that the same heart assailants have equally diminished the magic, wonder and anticipation of Jesus coming, making all things new, and bringing us to the place He has prepared?

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. Rev. 22:17

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