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December 1, 2005

It has been said that there are three ages of man.  First, when we believe in Santa Claus.  Second, when we play Santa Claus.  Third,  when we look like Santa Claus.

One of the Christmas decorations we have at home is this little figurine of Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas kneeling at the manger of Jesus.  For me , this is one of the most meaningful symbols of Christmas.  Its an honest picture of who Santa Claus really was and an example for our lives.

Too often today Santa Claus comes across as being almost a replacement for Jesus.  He’s like a god.

He seemingly knows everything.  He knows who’s been naughty or nice.  He sees us when we’re sleeping and when we’re awake.

He has a standard of morality and “goodness” that he expects.  He keeps a list on everybody.  He encourages us to be good.

He has the ability to be seemingly everywhere at the same time.  Imagine, in one night he visits everybody and gives them presents.

The real Santa Claus was actually a man named Nicholas who was born around 255 A.D. and grew up to become the Bishop of Myra, a town on the southwest coast of Turkey.

There are a number of legends associated with Nicholas.  One is about how he helped three sisters survive being sold into prostitution by tossing bags of gold into their window at night.  As the legend goes, Nicholas climbed up on the roof one night and dropped a bag of gold down the chimney where it landed in a stocking hung up to dry.  And so, we hang stockings for Santa Claus.

According to legend, one night, Nicholas saw Jesus in a vision.  Jesus gave him the Gospels and commanded Nicholas to serve him.  Nicholas became a man devoted to charity and used his wealth to help others.  During the time of persecution ordered by the Emperor Diocletian of Rome, Nicholas witnessed boldly to his faith in Jesus.  He shared the Gospel with everyone he could and spent time instructing children in our faith.

During the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 one of the hot topics was Arianism.  The Arians denied the deity of Jesus.  Nicholas spoke on behalf of orthodox doctrine and at one point actually slapped the heretic Arius in the face for speaking against Jesus Christ.

Every account about Nicholas describes him as a likable and benevolent man who found life’s riches in Jesus our Savior.  The purpose of Nicholas’ life was serve his Savior, Jesus.

In Philippians 2:9-11, The Apostle Paul writes of Jesus  “Therefore (because of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection - His saving work on our behalf) also God highly exalted Him [Jesus] and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

No one is greater than Jesus (not even Santa Claus).  No one deserves greater respect, honor, and worship.  He has first place in everything.  The dominion of Jesus is greater.  He is Lord over all of creation.  And He is the Head of the Church.

May we allow Jesus to have first place in our lives that we may honor and serve Him.  May the reality that He has come change the priorities of our lives.