Friday, December 23, 2011

Truth Greater Than Fiction -- Peter A. Black

The following post was my article published in "The Watford Guide-Advocate" Dec. 22, 2011. I share it here, wishing you and your loved ones a joyous Christmas graced by the presence and peace of our Lord Emmanuel -- "God with us."

All too soon, it seems, Christmas rushes upon us again. The Big Day is just around the corner. Kids in the multiple millions – especially in the West – just can’t wait to see what gifts 'The Big Guy' will bring them.

Some of us, while casting a disdainful eye at the rank commercialism and seeds of greed sown in young hearts this season, welcome the employment that’s generated and the goodwill that blossoms at many levels of society. And so, we get into the spirit and set up our artificial tree, or obtain a fresh-cut pine or spruce, bedeck it with garlands and tinsel, and ornaments and twinkling lights.

The livingroom – cosy and inviting, laden with a host of seasonal trinkets and trappings, with angels and fairies guarded by cute sentinel nutcrackers – complements the tree. Perhaps the exterior of the house is adorned with colourful lights and illuminated stars. Many a front yard sports a Las Vegas-like diorama of illuminations – such as rope lights spiralling around porch pillars and trees, cute reindeer and sleigh forms – and even huge, inflated Santas.

Let’s not overlook those creches depicting the Holy Family – the Christ Child with Mary and Joseph, attended by shepherds presenting a lamb and Magi bearing gifts. Yes, some of us intentionally keep in view that Christmas is about God’s gift to the world of The Christ Child, our Saviour and Redeemer, the Son of God from heaven. Let us also give thanks to God for those from all walks of life who reach out to those in need, those who help keep our communities safe, for those who generously provide for others, and those who offer various forms of support.

Who is (that is, who was) Santa Claus? He was born during the third century to a devout Christian couple in a village called Patara in what is now the southern coastal area of Turkey. They named him Nicholas. They were wealthy, but died in an epidemic when Nicholas was still young.

However, they had raised him with a deep commitment to living out the commands of the Lord Jesus, and he applied personally the words Jesus spoke to a wealthy young man, “sell your possessions and give the money to the poor.” Nicholas gladly used up all his inheritance, providing assistance to the poor, and helping the sick and suffering.

His selflessness and generosity didn’t go unnoticed, and while still a young man, he was appointed Bishop of Myra. His love for children and concern for the dangers sailors faced were widely appreciated. Despite this, Nicholas was exiled and imprisoned for his faith.

Various legends of miraculous events surrounding his life surfaced over time, and after his death he was canonized and became known as Saint Nicholas. Yes, the historical truth about Santa is way more remarkable than the fictionalized caricature we have today.

Similarly, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom Nicholas loved and served, has been mythologised. And yet, the accounts of His miraculous conception and birth, His life and death and resurrection as recorded in the gospels are heart-warming and believable, inspiring love and hope.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).”

Life beyond this life and joy beyond compare through the gift of God’s Son . . . that’s Christmas for me – truth greater than fiction!

Peter A. Black writes a weekly inspirational column for the Southwestern Ontario newspaper, The Watford Guide-Advocate, and is the author of "Parables from the Pond" (a Word Alive Press Finalist, 2007)-- a book finding a readership from school kids to senior citizens.


Marian said...

I didn't know that about Santa. I'll be looking at him with more respect from now on.

Peter Black said...

Thanks Marian.
I consider that the origins of the modern caricatured Santa Claus as rooted in solid historical evidence of one -- St Nicholas -- who existed early on in the Christian era is rather confirming of our faith.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Peter, for reminding us and others about the life of St. Nicholas. I didn't know that he'd been exiled.

Peter Black said...

I didn't know about his exile either, until I checked several sources.
It's one of those sad-happy things: sad that St. Nicholas was persecuted for his faith despite his gracious ways and benificent deeds, but happy because he remained faithful despite his persecutions and exile.

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