Lest you think I have no other hobbies than cooking and eating gluten-free food, last weekend I had the privilege of playing my oboe in The Nutcracker orchestra in the lovely (but rainy) northern Oregon coast town of Astoria. For eleven years now, I’ve enjoyed playing Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece. I enjoy it more each time. It’s probably because I have the music almost memorized! If you are a local resident and have never seen it, it’s worth the drive not just to hear my oboe solos, but also to see the talented ballet dancers. I consider playing The Nutcracker every December my start to the holiday season. All week I’ve had sugar plum fairy music dancing in my head.
In between performances, I was able to visit a local Bible church that I used to attend when I lived there for a public school music position a number of years ago. The church sanctuary was adorned with white sparkling lights and a tall live Christmas tree, the perfectly shaped kind that grow so naturally in the Northwest. I was blessed to share communion with other Christian believers, and hear an encouraging Christmas message from John 1.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Isn’t that a wonderful verse? God became a man and lived among his creation! As the pastor continued his sermon, he spoke about our cultural Christmas traditions and the happy stories of Santa giving presents to good children. Then something he said struck me.
“Santa can’t save you from your sins.”
I had never heard it put that way before. What a profound statement during this time of year. It’s true. Santa can’t save me from my sins. Santa can’t save you from your sins. He might bring joy to both needy and greedy children for a night or a week. But when the newness of shiny toys fade away, Santa becomes a memory until next December.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not completely against Santa. It’s a pleasure to watch children get photos with the overweight, white-bearded man at the mall. It was fun for my siblings and I to receive gifts from Santa (aka Dad) when we were growing up. And historical accounts of Saint Nicolas giving to the poor are inspirational. His generosity is worthy to be emulated.
But ultimately, Santa is just extra fluff. Compared to the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace, Santa is well…just a dressed up old man. His jolly “Ho, Ho, Ho” echoes for only one night. The celebration of the baby Jesus, however, continues season after season. This little child is the king of kings and lord of lords. His praises will be sung for all eternity! Why?
Because Jesus saves people! He is the reason we rejoice at Christmas time.
His birth was foretold in Isaiah 9:6.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
His death was prophesied in Isaiah 53.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities.
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief,
He would render Himself as a guilt offering.
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
These passages from the Bible demonstrate the purpose for Jesus’ incarnation. He came to save sinners! We even hear songs about Jesus this time of year on secular radio stations – Joy to the World, Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, What Child is This and The Hallelujah Chorus. All of these focus on the joy and peace we have from knowing the Savior of the world. Do you know him?
I was recently introduced to this song written by Scott Wesley Brown, from the 1980s. Its themes of man’s struggle with broken relationships, war, and sin still ring true today, thirty years later. Give it a listen. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Do you believe in The Little Child?
In the midst of your Christmas merriment – sugar plum fairy music, gift giving and parties with Santa – remember the baby Jesus came to earth to save you, to save me. He came to put us back in right relationship with our Creator.
Now that is something to dance and sing about!
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.