As the big day will soon be here, I felt it would be appropriate to share something that truly captures the spirit of the holiday…moreso than snarking on terrible Christmas songs and whatnot, despite my incalculable talent at doing so.
I got lots of letters from Santa when I was a kid. They usually told my brother and I that we were good kids, but he also told us how we could improve in the coming year.
I’m signing off for the rest of the week, until next Monday, and wanted to leave you with this:
My daughter was not ready to give up on Santa. She had some rather heated discussions with her classmates defending this wonderful elf bearing gifts and good cheer. She was so incensed that she wrote Santa the letter you see here.
It read: “Dear Santa, I need to prove that you are real, so if you will sign here that would be great! Love Rachel
P.S. I love Christmas!”
On Christmas morning, the letter was signed and the cookies were eaten, but Mr. Kringle also wrote this letter:
My Dearest Rachel:
Thank you so much for your letter. It was so nice of you to take the time to write me. Your mom and dad have been very proud of you and your brother this year. Even though you don’t always get along, I know that you love each other very much. Sometimes brothers and sisters just get on each other’s nerves! You are such a sweet girl. I especially love the way you are always concerned about someone else’s feelings, even when they have been unkind to you. It takes a very special person to love that way.
Now as to your question of whether or not I am real. The simple answer is yes, I am. The complete answer requires a bit more complicated explanation. There are many boys and girls of all ages that either believed in me at one time, then stopped believing, or simply have never believed in me. There are even some boys and girls that have never heard of me, if you can believe that! Rachel, what I would like you to understand is that your belief in me makes me real. For as long as your heart tells you that there is a Santa Claus, that is where I will be. For those who say I am not real, I do not exist; for those who believe, I do exist.
I would also like to clear up a little rumor about me that has been going around since before I can remember. It is not true that only good boys and girls get presents from Santa. There are many very good children that get very little; there are others who have been very naughty indeed, yet get lots of toys. The decisions about who gets what toys I must leave to their moms and dads. It is not my place to make these choices.
The truth of the matter is that none of us are truly good except for Jesus. And Christmas is about celebrating God coming to earth in the form of a little baby born in Bethlehem. There may come a day when you no longer believe in me, and I want you to know that that is okay with me. Like I said before, I exist in the hearts of those who choose to believe in me. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, has no such limitations. He is real whether you choose to believe in Him or not, and He loves all of us so very much that He left His perfect home with God so we could someday join Him there. I know I am very special to you, and I appreciate that very much. But I also know you understand that Christmas is not about me; it is about celebrating the birth of Jesus — the very best gift of all. A very Merry Christmas to you.
Love, Santa Claus
Is that cool or what? Whether you believe in Santa or not, that’s a good letter.
Thank you so much for reading my blog. The few minutes you give me each week are a great gift to me. Those of you who keep blogs – thank you for sharing your world with us. I hope each of you has a wonderful Christmas celebration. I’ll see you back here in time to get ready for New Year’s – Monday December 28.
Tell me, did Santa ever say anything to you?
Christmas is all about giving, and doing things for other people. In that spirit, I’m making someone else write my blog for me today. I’m back with another fantastic blogger interview. Today, I bring to you not only an amazingly funny and versitile blogger, but he’s the author of fantastic books like Churched and The Christian Culture Survival Guide.
Here’s Matthew Paul Turner.
You’ve been blogging for three years and writing books for a while too. How’d the writing career get started?
Any blog or author heroes you look up to?
Of course. Some of my favorite writers include, Anne Lamott, David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Henri Nouwen, GK Chesterton, Cynthia Kaplan, Dave Eggers, and many many others.
When you say “field,” you mean “mission field,” right? Either way, my “field” was Coffeehouse Ministry Professional. I ran Jammin’ Java in Northern Virginia, an amazing coffee/life music venue. I write a little about Jammin Java in my next book, “Hear No Evil.”
Your blog got a lot of attention for spending a whole week on posts about sex, and now you blog about sex regularly. Many of us haven’t had a week of sex talk / giggling / awkward silence since junior high health class (except for that kid whose parents didn’t sign the permission slip.) What inspired this?
That’s what she said.
Whisper that word into somebody’s ear and watch the results happen. It’s almost glorious.
Your blog oftentimes receives comments from people gravely concerned that you are a terrible person. How do you feel about people who don’t get your humor, or think you’re a bad Christian?
No I’ll just let all of the readers flame you. That’s strike two, if I’m counting correctly.
What preacher, living or dead, would you most like to arm-wrestle? Do you think you would win?
Paula White if I want to win. Or Joel Osteen. He’s a preacher, right?
Mark Driscoll if I want my hand to smell.
Jonathan Edwards if want to feel emotionally and physically beaten up afterwards.
Churched, in my opinion was a great book.
Thank you, Matt. That’s means a lot.
Please let me finish. Have you fully healed from your childhood religious wounds?
I am at a place in life where I can celebrate the redemption through Jesus without fear. That’s miles away from where I was last year. But I don’t believe I’ll ever fully heal from what I experienced as a child. I’m not sure I’m supposed to. My childhood no longer “defines” me, but it will always be with me. In a lot of ways, it’s “fuel” to remind me to stand up for the people who have been kicked out of church, the people that the evangelical world has pushed into corners, and those who’ve been convinced that they can’t engage God’s story. And it reminds me not to be afraid. Far too many Christians have “fear” rather than “faith.”
Any hints on a new book in the pipeline?
My new book is called Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost, and it hits stores in February. All of the essays come from my experiences with music (I wanted to be the Michael Jackson of Christian music) and how music affected my innocence as well as my understanding of God and grace.
Thanks for a great interview, Matthew. Be sure to check out his blog and send him some hate (or prayer) mail at Jesus Needs New PR.
In the spirit of holiday regifting, I’m dredging up another classic holiday blog post, rewritten and repackaged with a bright shiny bow!
And then some teetotaller shows up, and I guess I’m supposed to feel bad about being on my fourth hot toddy at 11 in the morning.
So to clarify, you Christmas Vegans are a pain because your actions make me look bad. While I’m talking about the iPod I got for Christmas, you are talking about the soup kitchen you spent all Christmas working at. It makes me feel a little self conscious, and I’ll thank you to stop. I feel I need to drop the phrase “reason for the season” into conversation with you, or recite the King James version of the Christmas story a la Linus from Charlie Brown.
I need you to know that I love Jesus, perhaps even more than you do. I just love eggnog, cookies, and giving (and getting) presents too. In fact, I can love presents and Jesus, because I just have lots of love in my heart. Some people have enough love for big families. I have enough love for big presents. And I’m sorry you have such a small Grinch heart so you cannot understand that. I’m not going to stop enjoying those things just because a bunch of pagans do that too. Guess what? A bunch of pagans go to church on Christmas too. There. I am justified. You have nothing on me. Enjoy your tofurky, I have a doorbuster deal to grab.
I find myself drawn in. There are definately more Christmas Vegans this year, I’ve noticed. Or at least Christians who are indulging in less. Maybe it’s the economy. But maybe people are genuinely tired of the Christmas rat race.
And I am starting to feel the same way. Your Christmas stinginess and scroogery is making me re-evaluate my own habits. My wife and I realized we could simplify our Christmas just by trimming the budget. Novel idea! For example, we have yet to buy a Christmas tree, ever. Our tree is a trade made with my brother. We also decided we’d trim our gifts that we purchase down by $5-$10 each. We have also made a point that we will not visit the movies on Christmas. That’s just our thing, and I won’t judge you if your family does go to the movies (though you are free to feel judged.)
Wow, I can see why you Christmas Vegans are going for a simpler holiday. I feel holier about myself already, just by telling you all that! Do you need to re-read that list of holy things I’m doing to get some ideas about how to improve yourself? I think I need a reward for being so awesome. Maybe a couple extra cookies tonight.
Are you a Christmas vegan? A carnivore? What’s your favorite “worldly” part of Christmas? What part do you wish would go away? Are you simplifying your Christmas, or do you revel in every candy cane?
Well, by now we’re knee deep in Christmas cheer.
That means we’re scrambling from store to store, and from one workplace party to the next, and from one Christmas pagaent to another. And all the while, the singers on the radio are seranading us with season’s greetings.
And by about this time each year, I’ve had enough musical holiday cheer to make me want to go live at the North Pole…and be a hermit.
Christmas is the time when musicians oftentimes put away their deft musical instincts and crank up the hokiness to eleven. While most Christmas hymns are timeless and not terrible, the same cannot be said for secular Christmas music. What we get is an avalanche of grating, insipid, repetitive songs that make us wish Christmas only came once every ten years.
It’s time for another fun Open Line Friday, the blog post that’s dedicated to talking about topics suggested by readers. Let the barrage of non-sequitors begin!
Rev. John: I recently heard a conversation between two youth pastors. One was complaining about their church being lazy. The other was complaining about their older members. Is there a difference between a church being tired and being lazy?
I spoke once with a woman whose dad was a preacher. He was forced to re-roof the church himself. Why? No one else would. Onward, Christian soldiers!
Jennifer Taylor: Why do so many Christian leaders avoid conflict instead of dealing with it head on?
Because seminary somehow turns even a 250 pound football player-turned preacher into a giant wimp. We think “spiritual” men pray and weep and hold hands, and never throw down when it comes to moral conflicts, lest they be labeled “hateful.” A pastor may rather go into politics and just change the laws for everyone, than take care of a problem in his own church.
Tony C: Hey Matt, which disciple do you think had the best sense of humor?
That’s a tough one. Peter was a big dufus. Judas took himself out of the running. Thomas went around acting like an angsty teenager. John and James were too busy arm-wrestling. The one time we see Philip, he’s whining. Andrew was always passing out gospel tracts. Matthew was a tax man. Simon the Zealot? Might as well call him “Simon the Fundamentalist.” That says it all. That other James, wasn’t even a colorful enough person to have an original name.
That leaves Thaddeus and Bartholomew. We never see them. They wrote nothing down. My guess is they were the class clowns, judging by how they accomplished nothing of importance in their time as disciples. If I were going to be in the Bible, I might have tried to say something important at least once. But I’m not, so I have this blog.
There is a fine line between online gaming nerds and online blogging nerds. Gaming nerds are up all hours of the night, talking smack with strangers, eating Cool Ranch Doritos, accomplishing nothing of consequence, drifting through life with little purpose, or prospects for girlfriends.
I, on the other hand…dang it.
That does it for another Open Line Friday. But I need your thoughts in order to do another. Tell me what’s on your mind, on your blog, whatever. Either send a comment, or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.