Digging deeper into grace (12/20/2017)


Many years ago, Gary Collins wrote a magazine article entitled, “The Case of the Sad Santa.” It begins, “Not long ago, a student researcher from Purdue University dressed up as a clown, tucked a tape recorder up her baggy red-and-white-striped sleeve and stepped out among the busy Christmas shoppers on Chicago’s State Street. ‘Can I ask you one question?’ she asked people at random. ‘Where do you find love?’

“Some of the people just looked or shrugged their shoulders and walked away. More than half said they couldn’t answer because they didn’t believe that there is any love in the world. When it got too cold on State Street (December winds can be wicked in Chicago and clown suits aren’t very warm), the spunky researcher went into one of the big department stores looking for the on-duty Santa Claus.

“‘Santa, where do you find love in the world?’ The tape recorder was as hidden from view as the real face of that department-store St. Nick.

“‘I don’t believe love exists!’ the man in the fake whiskers replied. ‘I think it’s something we make up. I don’t love anybody and nobody loves me.’ Then Santa turned to the crowd and belted out a ‘Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!’

“Any student who, for the sake of a term paper, chooses to wander around a big city dressed like a clown isn’t likely to let even Santa Claus get away with a simple answer like that. So the clown probed. ‘Don’t you find love anywhere?’

“‘No!’ Santa replied with a trace of un-Christmaslike annoyance. ‘You’re putting me on the spot. Please leave me alone.’

“The clown patted the man on the shoulder. ‘Forgive me for bothering you,’ she said and began to walk away.

“But Santa called her back. ‘I’m really sorry I couldn’t answer,’ he said sadly. ‘But I just can’t find love anywhere—not even at Christmas.’”

Unfortunately, Christmas—especially Christmas—is a lonely and depressing time for many people. I have two things to say about this:

1: The great good news of Christmas is that there is love in the world. Indeed, the great good news of Christmas is that Love entered our world on Christmas day. The great good news of Christmas is that the Maker of the universe cares so much about us that God actually came into our world as one of us to live with us, to die for us, and to rise from the dead, conquering death.

2: Let us look out for one another—especially at this time of year when loneliness and sorrow and need can be felt so intensely.
The One who was born on Christmas day said to his followers shortly

before his death, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). A few verses later he repeated it, “This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:17).
If we want to be serious about Christmas, let us take to heart the directions of the One whose birth we celebrate, and let us love those around us—especially looking out for those who are lonely or sad or in need. ■

—Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa.