Would Santa Punch You In The Face? by Dr. Naima Bush, Founder of The Refreshing Life
Who knows how a Turkish bishop named Nicholas, who was orphaned at a young age and had a penchant for gift giving and died centuries ago, became an eternally living, jolly fat man, who lives in a snow covered wasteland, riding around with magic reindeer while managing to defy the space time continuum that the Good Lord put in place.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of Santa is a wonderful thing, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t hope to one day leave milk and cookies out for the dude with my own children. When my brother and I were little we left Santa some Chips Ahoy and an orange plastic Tupperware tumbler of Vodka… don’t ask…
But this year as I flipped from channel to channel it seemed that every holiday themed movie or TV show that was on was about Santa Claus, or an Elf, or a dysfunctional family. Unless it was a Hallmark or Lifetime movie, then it was about some professional business woman to busy for love and how seasonal magic somehow ushered her into the arms of Mr. Right.
Not one show about the birth of our Savior, the true meaning of Christmas, the greatest gift ever given, at least not until Charlie Brown comes on, and then we’ll hear Linus preach the gospel message until the day that somebody protests that Christmas tradition as being offensive. We already lost the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Rudolph is facing the axe because of bullying… but I digress.
As I was pondering my TV selections, I thought about a conversation I had with a Catholic friend of mine in regards to the true history of Santa Claus. Now Nicholas was a devout man, who loved the Lord with his whole heart. There are many stories of how he gave away everything he had to meet the needs of others, all in the name of Christ.
But he shared with me a story I had never head before. This one was about how St. Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 with three hundred other church leaders under the direction of the Emperor Constantine. During this major ecumenical event, the Nicene Creed was produced, but before that Santa got a little unruly…
Arius, a church leader from Egypt had the floor and was going on and on about how Jesus was not equal to God the Father, thus rendering the Trinity as null and void. The longer Arius talked, the more perturbed Nicholas became, until he could take the heresy no more and dashed across the room and smacked in some accounts, or punched in others, Arius in the face. Which to be honest, makes me laugh uncontrollably, since the only image I have of Saint Nicholas comes from the imaginings of the secular world.
Well, of course Nicholas, the patron saint of children, repentant thieves, merchants (might explain all the shopping) and pawnbrokers (yes, pawnbrokers) was punished and stripped of his bishop’s garments and thrown in jail… and then there’s a miracle and restoration… you’ll have to look it up to get the details on this one or we’ll be here forever… But Nicholas does get out of jail and is restored to his office.
The point is Nicholas was willing to risk it all to defend the truth. Christmas is about Christ, and I believe Saint Nicholas would agree. If he got so upset he was clocking folks in the eye over the importance of the Trinity, what would his response be to how the world has taken this most sacred time and turned it into a Black Friday brawl over a $198.00 TV set?
Yes, Christmas is a sacred time. It should be more about giving the gift of His eternal love, of forgiveness and restoration then about elves and grinches and stockings. I’m not saying not to put out your cookies, or decorate your tree or hang your Christmas lights. Jon and I watched Elf this past weekend and I laughed so hard I almost choked. But while we are doing these things, let's not forget The One who gave us breath in our lungs so that we could laugh, The One who loved us so much that He left His throne to be born in this barren place to give us hope and a future.
What I am saying is that although many believe that the story of Saint Nicholas smacking Arius is a myth, it still begs the question. A man so on fire for the Lord that he risked everything to tell the world he would not stand for the demotion of his Savior, that he would not stand idly by while someone made the Lord Jesus Christ less then what He Is, that someone would so reckless disregard the gift the Father gave us to restore us, pushed Santa Claus to the brink.
If Jolly Old Saint Nick was here today, would he be so jolly? Or would he be running around malls, TV stations, Christmas events and even churches smacking folks in the face?
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