When I was a pastor, one Sunday in Advent I called the kids forward for the children’s sermon. I told my three-to-seven-year-old congregation
Today I’m going to tell you the truth about Santa Claus.
Usually the kids were pretty wriggly. This time the parents were squirming.
Here is what I told them.
Long, long ago, about 300 years after Jesus was born, there was a man named Nicholas. He was the “bishop,” the main pastor, in the city of Myra in Asia Minor. He followed Jesus and became very kind and generous.
One time there was a poor man who had three daughters. The man was worried that bad things would happen to his daughters if they couldn’t get married — and he was way too poor to pay for their weddings.
Bishop Nicholas really cared about those young women. So at night, when everybody was asleep, he brought three bags of gold coins and tossed them through the window of their house. The man paid for his daughters’ weddings, and everything worked out great.
That is just one of the generous and loving things Nicholas did. After he died people thought he was so special that they called him ‘Saint Nicholas’. Ever since then, he has been a reminder of how God loves and takes care of children.
In our culture we call Saint Nicholas ‘Santa Claus.’ There really was a Santa Claus. He loved Jesus, and he loved children, and so we remember him. That’s the truth.
If I had been talking to grown ups I would have also told them that he was one of the Holy Fathers at the Council of Nicaea, and a staunch advocate of Orthodoxy against Arianism.
At our house we tell our kids the truth about Santa Claus. We tell them that we have a fun pretend-game we play at Christmas — mommy and daddy will give some presents and pretend that they really came from Saint Nicholas, the man who loved Jesus and loved children.
The kids dig it. They love pretending. And let’s be honest: they really love presents.
And we are happy to help them distinguish the truth from fiction in something as important as the Christian faith.
Plus, on December 6, the feast day of St. Nicholas, they wake up to find gold-wrapped chocolate coins in their shoes by their beds. It’s another old tradition of Santa Claus.
I’d love to send you a free copy of my new eBook on quirky and surprising saints. It’s called Role Models for Discipleship.
Click the button and I’ll send it along.