‘He’s making a list, checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.’ Have you ever stopped to think about how opposite to the gospel Santa’s naughty and nice list actually is? It may be an effective way of curbing children’s behaviour in the build up to Christmas, but it expresses nothing of forgiveness, grace and real heart change.
Although I’m yet to encounter a child who has been given a lump of coal, the concept is that Santa’s gifts are merit based. Children get what they deserve which means that a parent can threaten their child when they’re misbehaving, and the child can feel proud of their behaviour when they open their deserved presents on Christmas morning.
The reason Jesus entered our world on that inaugural Christmas Day was to show us grace. We deserve no good thing from God. Our merit is his judgement for our sin and rebellion against his daily kindness. Yet without earning it, without needing to try harder and do better, he gives us forgiveness for every wrong and extends a welcome into his family as his children, even granting us the faith with which to accept this offer. All this not on our merit but on Christ’s. In the words of the City Alight song: ‘What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer!’
As we approach the time when we celebrate Jesus’ birth, we’ve prepared a few articles to help you. Drawing out our amazement, Geoff Thomas wonders at the birth of God’s Son, Bethan Lycett provides us with a whole raft of ideas for maximising outreach opportunities this season, and Iain Hodgins puts forward the idea of a ‘Blue’ Christmas service to reach and help those who struggle at this time of year. Picking up on what is surely the best Christmas film, Jonathan Hodgins enables us to see the gospel narrative in Home Alone.
In addition to all that, we have plenty of other articles for you to take in, including our ongoing series, our reviews and updates. Before you get stuck in, if you’re looking for a Christmas gift, why not consider signing someone up for an annual subscription to this magazine. At only £20 for the year, it’s not just an excellent gift, but great value too.