Have you ever played Telephone Pictionary? It’s a fun family game. Someone writes down a brief storyline. The next person draws a quick picture of that on a new sheet of paper. A third person describes what’s going on in the second picture, without seeing the original written storyline. Then a fourth person draws a picture from the revised storyline. Finally a fifth person describes what’s going on in the last picture, again without any prior information.
Then comes the funny part! Someone reads the sequence, which invariably ends up getting misunderstood in a funny way.
Recently we played this game with our family and some friends who were visiting. Our friend Doug started one of the rounds by writing, “Santa and Mrs Claus went surfing.” My niece Sara drew a picture of this which ultimately ended up getting interpreted as, “Jesus helps Santa Claus walk on water!”
We all got a good laugh!
Jesus and Santa Claus
Later I got to thinking about the idea of Jesus helping Santa Claus walk on water. (By the way, the picture above was drawn by Kristi.)
As Christ-followers we’re right to be concerned about Santa stealing the show from the our Lord Jesus Christ’s birthday and making Christmas so commercialized. But of course, the problem isn’t really Santa Claus — it’s us. We’re the ones who set aside Jesus and make Christmas into a hectic and materialistic holiday.
So maybe we don’t need to get rid of Santa Claus. My little niece’s picture of Jesus helping Santa Claus walk on water is precious! She knows Jesus as her Lord and Savior and in her eleven years she has enjoyed the story of Santa Claus as just that — a story, a fun children’s story.
Let’s Look to Jesus to Redeem Santa
So what about Jesus and Santa Claus? Instead of condemning Santa Claus as a lie that replaces the truth of Jesus, I’d rather look to the Lord Jesus to help us redeem the story of “Jolly ‘ol Saint Nick.” Actually it’s not too hard to do. Saint Nicholas was a real man in the 3rd Century who was a devoted disciple of Jesus and he was a simple man that found great joy in giving gifts to others.
Knowing the true story of Saint Nicholas, we ought to emulate him! We ought to tell his story, which we did for our children when they were little. I realized this not only by learning the story of the real Saint Nicholas but also by wearing a Santa suit one day. Yes, I was all dressed in a red fur coat, with a fat belly, and a white beard! It started out as a gag for group Christmas photo, but it became an amazing and holy experience. I tell this story in my short and fun devotional, “Be Like Santa Claus.”
In a way it’s true, Jesus Christ did help Santa to walk on water! Just as Jesus helped Peter to walk on water so also he helped Saint Nicholas 1,700 years ago to perform miracles of love.
If we’ll look to Jesus Christ to redeem our celebrations of Christmas it’ll be like Jesus helping Santa Claus to walk on water!