I saw Santa Claus in April!
At first I thought he had gotten his holidays mixed up and was here for Easter, but then I peeked into the room he was walking into at my local library and to my surprise there were over fifty Santa’s all sitting together plus a few Mrs. Claus sitting throughout. There were big Santas, little Santas, rotund Santas and even skinny Santas. I learned that this was the Buckeye Santas, a local group who according to their mission statement come together to:
“… share with each other their experiences as Santa Claus, to fellowship, share ideas, educate each other, enjoy having a meal together and encouragement in the pursuit of providing a better Santa Claus experience for everyone.” http://www2.onu.edu/~r-gainey/BuckeyeSantaWeb/BuckeyeSantasGuidelines.html
I learned that this is a Real Bearded Santa group and that full members must keep a beard all year round to keep in spirit of Santa. Before I could do something foolish like sitting on their collective lap and giving them my Christmas wish list I headed out but the Santas kept running through my mind. Here was a group dedicated to keeping the Spirit of Christmas and Santa Clause alive throughout the year and throughout their lives (especially with Santa Beards!) and to help each other do that work to the best of their abilities. How cool is that!
I thought though, if these Santas, hypothetically speaking, never left the conference room they were meeting in, if the Christmas spirit didn’t effect the rest of their lives, whether in work or play, if being Santa was just about meeting together as Santas, drinking eggnog and talking about reindeer, they really wouldn’t be very good Santas would they? Keeping Santa locked up in a room apart from the real world kind of misses the whole point of the Christmas spirit doesn’t it?
How appropriate that thought is, for us, just a few days after our Easter Celebration. During last week’s sermon we meditated on the fact that if Jesus Christ had not been raised from the dead on the third day according to God’s promises, then none of the things that came after, the faith, the church, the martyrs, some 2.6 billion Christians today, none of that would have happened if Jesus’ was still in the tomb and we would still be lost in the darkness of our sins apart from God.
The Resurrection celebration that we had together with those 2.6 billion Christians last Sunday is to celebrate that Jesus is NOT in the tomb, He was raised on the third day according to God’s promises, He is not in the tomb anymore and we have new life and hope because this occurred.
But I wonder, why is it, that I get the feeling, that right after Easter so many Christians, you and me, have this tendency to put Jesus back in the tomb after Easter morning, to put Him back in the Easter box for another year until its time to dust Him off again next spring. . I have to tell you, pastors, myself included, we struggle with this, because we do so much work for the Holy Season, when it’s over we kind of take a big sigh of relief, a well-deserved nap, and look forward to Easter being a whole year away.
Maybe it’s not as dramatic as that, maybe it’s more keeping Jesus in the tomb of Sunday mornings and not letting Him walk and talk and breathe in our everyday life. There are so many in our culture pushing to keep our spiritual life as only a private thing, that is not celebrated or lived out in our everyday life. There is the sin as well in our life, that urges you, put Jesus into the tomb, keep him there and shut him up, so he can’t see the kinds of things we’re doing Monday through Saturday!
I can’t tell how many times I have seen and heard of whole congregations doing this. They keep Jesus in the tomb of their church buildings, committees and organizational approvals, budget constraints and financial worries. Sometimes these are very nice tombs we are talking about, well appointed and decorated, but in the end they are still tombs where the body of Jesus Christ is kept hidden within.
But just as much as we may want to keep Jesus in the tomb, locked away, whether its because we’re afraid of letting Him loose, or the world tells us to shut him up, or our sins want to roll the stone back, none of that can keep Jesus in the tomb. He is our risen savior, alive, breathing, walking, talking and active in your life, in your heart and in your mind.
The cross could not keep Him down. Death itself could not shut Him up. The tomb could not hold Him. The stone has been rolled away and He is alive and he is working in your life right now in faith and God will not settle for being locked up in a room away from the action, God desires to and walks into every corner of who we are. So we can either keep trying to roll the stone back in place knowing Jesus will never stay put or in your Christian faith, let go of the stone and let your Savior walk through every path of your mind, shine His resurrection light in every corner of your heart and break down every barrier to your soul.
Jesus has already won the victory the question that remains is will we continue to struggle against Him, like Satan still does knowing he is defeated, or will we faithfully and joyfully let go and let God give to us the Resurrection and life and hope He has won for us on Easter morning?
Submission is probably the best word here and it has gained a bad reputation, we don’t like to submit, we want to be in charge. But what if we don’t what are being in charge of: sin? That always controls. Death? Of course not. Our own destiny? Maybe, but only being apart from God. Being lost? We can only stay lost on our own. But if we submit to God, that is receive in faith the Resurrected Jesus and let Him be Lord of all in and through us, what have we to lose, sin, death, hopelessness and despair. But what have we to gain but life, purity, forgiveness, hope and love. Sounds like a good deal to me. Let Easter be in your life what it is meant to be, because He is risen and lives and reigns already, in faith let Him be risen and alive and reigning in your life, each and every day.