Today’s Word from Pastor Tom…

You know that part of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” where we sing “… He sees you when you’re sleepin…” It is a faint childhood memory but I think it was the old cowboy Gene Autry who sang it. Well, that always struck me as a little peculiar. I was okay with Jesus seeing me when I was sleeping, but I was never really okay with a big guy in a red suit peeking at me through the curtain. It just felt different… a little icky?

Oh, I get the point, “He knows when you’ve been good or bad so be good, for goodness’ sake,” it was all about avoiding the dreaded coal in the stocking thing. No one wants Christmas coal in the stocking. Bad, very bad. As best as I can recall, my childhood was not stained by coal in the stocking so either Santa didn’t see everything or there was some grace thrown my way when it came to Christmas.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit there are yet moments when coal would still be a fitting reward for my inattentiveness to the sensitivity needs of those around me (Brenda is the gatekeeper of said moments). Okay, you’ve known me for more than 20 minutes so that is not a shocking epiphany.

There’s a commercial (credit card?) where the actor Samuel Jackson is conversing with Santa in a FaceTime conversation. Jackson asks if he is off the naughty list to which Santa asks if he has stopped using those naughty words. Jackson’s response cracks me up. While responding with a faint “Yessss” he is shaking his head “No.”

Try it, try saying “Yesss” while shaking your head, “Noooo.” You have to think about it. It doesn’t come naturally. I find it challenging, it’s not instinctive. I actually have a theory about how this pertains to our life of faith. While our ancient confessions read, “I confess that I am by nature sinful and unclean,” God’s gift of grace birthed in Jesus has been reshaping our lives. God’s gift of faith has opened our lives to a different set of values. A different lifestyle where we are not immediately disposed to our baser instincts (read, coal in the stocking).

God’s gift of grace birthed in Jesus… God’s gift of faith that opens our lives to a new life in Jesus. It all begins with God gifting us. We are days away from celebrating God putting on flesh in the infant Jesus in order to change the course of human history. It all begins with God making a gift. The consequence is the different lives we live. We live for others, we find joy and meaning in sharing and blessing others, we are not bound by our sin or the memory of our sin. God’s gift in Christmas has reshaped our lives… for eternity.

There is an interesting Proverb (11:1) that speaks to God abhorring dishonest scales yet finding delight in accurate weights. It’s about not cheating the poor. Christmas inspires me to consider this as a picture somewhat in reverse. That is, God puts his finger on the scales of history, intentionally tipping it towards grace. We don’t get what we deserve. No coal for us, nope. We get Jesus. The scales have been tipped toward us.

Hope your plans for the season have gone well, the shopping and all. If not, give yourself some grace. The important gift has already been prepared for us. We’re good.

Christmas peace and love to you. Continue to be gracious to those you encounter, especially to yourself.

Pastor Tom