Week of December 16
By Skip Heitzig
There’s a great scene in the classic old film “Miracle on 34th Street” that you might remember. A department store Santa Claus proves he’s the real Saint Nicholas to a little girl from Holland when he speaks to her in Dutch. They sing a song about “Sinterklaas” and the little girl is convinced.
There are some Christians who are really bugged by Santa Claus. They think he’s “ho-ho-ho-horrendous.” (Sorry about that one!) Of course, there’s no fat man living at the North Pole surrounded by toy-making elves.
But did you know that there really was a Saint Nicholas? In the fourth century A.D., Nicholas was a pastor, the bishop of the church at Myra in ancient Anatolia, which is modern-day Turkey. He had a reputation for benevolence. He regularly loaded up his wagon with food and fuel to give to the poor. Nicholas of Myra was one of the men present at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., and he vigorously defended the belief in the Trinity, which Arius the heretic denied. Nicholas was on the right side.
So, because he made such an impression by his life, it became a custom in many countries to give gifts every year on his feast day.
The Dutch are the ones who gave us the red suit with the white fur. They took the idea of Nicholas being a bishop and they added the motif of a bishop’s mitre and cape. And the suit sort of “morphed” over time. In Dutch, Saint Nicholas is “Sint Nikolaas,” which was contracted into “Sinterklaas.”
So you can write it all off, or you can say, “Kids, I want to tell you about the real Saint Nicholas, who he was, what he did, and what he believed in.” The world is out there saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if there really was someone who was that loving and compassionate?” There is! It’s Jesus Christ, the one that Nicholas loved and worshiped and served!
And by the way, Jesus is so much better than Santa! Because you know what Santa does: He makes a list and checks it twice to find out if you’re naughty or nice. I don’t want that! I want what Jesus did: “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14, NLT).
As for old “Sinterklaas,” like the little Dutch girl in the movie you can be thrilled to see him, because as a believer, you know who he really represents!
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