John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.[b]

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own,[c] and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[d] full of grace and truth.

I wanted to share with you a brief story about S-A-N-T-A. I came across this idea of how to let kids in on a bit of a secret about the rose-cheeked red-suited man who has become a symbol of Christmas for many people all over the world. I especially appreciated this angle because it has the potential to add to the magic and introduce the spirit of giving, without devastating anyone.

The article I read suggested taking your child out for hot chocolate, congratulating them on the ways you have seen them display caring and empathy as of late, that you have seen that they have not only grown in stature but that their heart has grown. Then to begin in a conspiratorial tone, letting them know they are now old enough to know about the true Santa Claus.

Leslie Rush revealss: "In our family, we have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.

Whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.
She tells her child:
'You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren't ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.

They then have the child choose someone they know--a neighbor, usually. The child's mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it--and never reveal to the receiver where it came from. Being a Santa isn't about getting credit, you see. It's unselfish giving.

Her oldest noticed when they drove to school that a grumpy neighbour of ours came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers. So then he had to go spy and decide how big her feet were. He hid in the bushes one Saturday, and decided she was a medium. They went to a local store and bought warm slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it "merry Christmas from Santa." After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate. The next morning, they watched her get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. Her son was all excited, and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as they drove off, there she was, out getting her paper--wearing the slippers. He was ecstatic. He had to be reminded that part of the gift was about remaining anonymous, that this was part of the "magic" of Santa.

Over the years, her child chose a good number of people to give to, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend's daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok. The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, matched the glee on the giver's face.

When it came time for Son #2 to join the ranks, my oldest came along, and helped with the induction speech. They are both excellent gifters, by the way, and never felt that they had been lied to--because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa."

Adapted from a story by by Leslie Rush

Now what does this have to do with Church, with Jesus, with a spiritual celebration of Christmas and the birth of Christ, you might well ask. I wondered how this approach might translate to church today. How might we convey this same excitement, this spirit of giving, and let people in on the true meaning of church for us? While there are a number of components which often function in churches in similar ways, it can be hard to capture the essence, the spirit, the life-giving parts of a Christian community which keep it not just lively but alive.

Our gospel reading today reminds us that we are all children of God. This opens up an invitation for us to care, to live in a way that is not only an expression but also an embodiment of love, the love Christ brings to our hearts, the love shared here and in our communities, the love we feel for one another and for our creator.

Thinking of the child giving slippers to a neighbour, I wonder what we might be that excited to give? What excites us about living out our Christian values? I think some of us have found that, and I hope we both testify to that, and continue to look for more ways to bring that brightness to the world.

The way the children of this storyteller are so excited about being Santa is in part due to the invitational way with which they were approached. How might we invite others to the table that Christ has prepared for us? What gets us that excited about Christ, that we just cannot wait to share it? How might we capture some of that eagerness from ourselves, and offer it to the community and world freely, openly, with such big hearts that we cannot help but be seen?

I urge us all to go out and be that Christ bearer, to live in the same spirit of generosity that this parent, this storyteller, is invoking in her children. Our gifts are not to be kept quiet, but to be shared and explored in community.

We see in Jesus a reflection of our hearts and love. Jesus is an embodiment of God's love. Let us go out and rejoice for being given that same opportunity to share our love and joy in Christ, a newborn king, who leads us in our generosity and giving.