Yes, I Do Believe in Santa Claus

Oh my. Bad timing. I was sitting here writing my competencies (paperwork to send to the Ministerial Fellowship Committee before I meet with them so that I can get fellowship and then ask a congregation to ordain me as a minister), when I opened a twitter e-mail. It was an update from the Unitarian Universalist Association quarterly publication, promoting a piece that appears in the current issue.

Now, I have the current issue of “UU World”, but I’ve been a tad busy, so I haven’t read it cover to cover. So I clicked on the link (because writing my competencies is SO engaging and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do), and read the piece, “A Letter About Santa and God.”  Oh my. Did I mention bad timing? Yeah. Because right now is really when I needed to be reminded about how so many UUs seem to worship the hyper-rational.

This piece is in the form of a letter to two children from their mother, explaining that Santa isn’t real, he’s fictional, that Mom and Dad have been delivering all the presents all these years, and that God is probably the same.  You know, since we can’t see God and all.

It goes on about how since life is unfair and the world is unfair, Santa, and God can’t be real. So we might as well not believe in them, right? I mean, why wrestle with the hard questions and ask ourselves how we could be doing God’s work that we’ve been called to do, when it’s just so much easier to say that God can’t possibly exist?

No – I’m not slamming atheists. I’m really not. To be a true ethical atheist is hard work. I’m slamming lazy theology. Life’s not fair? So true. That’s the beginning of the conversation, though, not the end.

This mother says that she wants to tell her children the truth about Santa, but I’ve noticed that people often confuse truth with facts. This author doesn’t seem to have any interest in truth. She says she wants to tell her children the truth, but then she just states facts. I can list facts all day that have no truths in them, and I can find truths in all sorts of fiction.

I always wanted my children to believe in Santa. I wanted them to, because Santa is WAY more than a guy who delivers presents. If that’s all he were, then I could just tell them about the UPS man.

Saint Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra. He had a special place in his heart for children, which is good, because he wasn’t always that way with adults. He actually got into a fist fight at the Council of Nicaea. Well, ok, what he did was that he slapped Arius (of the Arian heresy – on oldie but a goodie) in the face. He was sorry, and he did pray about it. Anyway, he was especially protective of children, and he became the patron saint of children.

That’s kind of a big thing. So the spirit of St. Nicholas should be alive and well in all of us. The spirit of wanting to give gifts to children and wanting to protect children. In fact, one miracle that he’s remembered for is providing money for three young women, for their dowries, so that they wouldn’t end up being sold into slavery. In this day and age, when there are more people enslaved around the world than in any other time in history, we could do with more of St. Nicholas’ spirit – back in the 4th century he was already fighting human trafficking.

I’ve always wanted my children to know this spirit. The spirit of generosity. The wonder. The joy.

I know there are many in my faith who don’t believe in God, or don’t know what they believe about God. Well, that’s not just in my faith. As a UU, I can’t imagine telling my children that God doesn’t exist or that God probably doesn’t exist. Yes, I’m a theist. I’m a strong theist, and I believe in a personal God, a God who interacts in the world. But I haven’t forced MY personal belief on my children, either.

Make no mistake, my children know my beliefs. I haven’t been afraid or ashamed to share them. But as a UU, I think that our fourth principle, the one that calls us to “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning” is the one that defines us. I’m happy to share my beliefs, but then I ask my children what their beliefs are. I’ve never told them that it is or isn’t this way or that.

I haven’t been worried that my children wouldn’t be rational thinkers. They’re some of the most rational people I know. Yet reason doesn’t have to come at the expense of wonder and mystery.

Oh, and Santa also helped to teach my children to be generous. They always wanted to leave milk and cookies for him. They always wanted to say thank you. They WANTED to say thank you.

Who brought this present? Must have been Santa! So tomorrow night, after church is over, after all the presents are wrapped (or maybe while I’m finishing up the wrapping) I’ll check the NORAD Santa tracker website. Just to see how Santa is doing. (And I’m fairly certain that Santa is a Time Lord, by the way). I haven’t lost my sense of wonder. And if I should happen to see the wandering saint, I’ll thank him for giving my children the gifts of wonder, mystery, and generosity. And maybe I’ll give him some milk and cookies, too. Now where did I put those chocolate chips….

That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.

Merry Christmas to all. And to all a good night.

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