Anglican Children and Youth Ministries Commission
Joy for All People:
The Saviour Not a Santa
Joy for All People: The Saviour Not a Santa
The Revd Mark Grobicki, Priest-in-Charge, Parish of Bassendean and Member of the Anglican Children and Youth Ministries Commission
‘But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’ (Luke 2:10–11, NRSV)
On behalf of ACYMC, may I wish you ‘Merry Christmas’.
Christmas is a time of celebration. We say to prefect strangers, ‘Merry Christmas.’ We sing, ‘Tis the season to be jolly….’ It’s a time, for young and old, to stop study and work, to gather with others, to give gifts, to eat and drink. It is a time of celebration.
Or at least it is meant to be. But one of the things about Christmas is that for many individuals, many families, and many children and youth, it is often a very difficult time. It could be the added Christmas stress and financial pressures. Or loneliness. Or ill-health. Or the reminder that the past year has not been what our new year resolutions had hoped. Or being apart from family or friends. Or seeing that loved one’s empty chair at the table. For many, young and old, there may be a myriad reasons not to celebrate at Christmas time.
And yet in the famous Nativity story, the angel declares to the shepherds that there is ‘good news of great joy for all the people’. No matter what our circumstances, what our bank balance, what our achievements or failures, who we’re with or even who we’re not with, Jesus’ birth is meant to be good news of great joy for all. Why? The angel gives the reason: ‘to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord’.
The birth of Jesus is good news for all, because he is the Saviour - and not a Santa.
Let me explain.
You see, in theory, if you are to get a gift from Santa, what do you have to do? Well, as the song goes, if Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town:
He’s making a list, He’s checking it twice,
Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…
He knows if you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!
The story of Santa might be good fun for young children, but a real-life Santa wouldn’t be particularly good news for real-life people – people in our hurts, sufferings, and imperfections. If Santa only rewarded the perfectly good and nice, at least I know I wouldn’t be getting much from him!
But the coming of Jesus is good news for all people, because he did not come like a Santa, but as the Saviour.
If Santa would give people what they deserve, a Saviour gives what we don’t deserve.
A Saviour rescues people – as a bewildered Joseph was told when receiving the news that Mary would have a child, ‘you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 2:21, NRSV).
Jesus did not come to reward those who have been perfectly good and nice, but – through his incarnation, life, death and resurrection – to save those who are under the penalty and power of sin.
He did not come to give breakable, disposable gifts to those who are good enough, but to give life with God to those who recognise we aren’t.
And that salvation is for everyone who turns to him in repentance and faith, irrespective of our circumstances, young and old.
It is something we all can know, and all can celebrate this Christmas.
And that is indeed good news of great joy for all people.