The Gilded Age was an incredible time in America! There were many advancements in science that had positive benefits for our nation. Economically we were beginning to prosper and harness the resources of our country. During our study of an American Christmas we looked at America in the colonies and the revolution. As our nation got on it’s feet what traditions did we start to form for ourselves?
From the pen of Washington Irving we have classic tales like the Headless Horsemen and Santa Claus. It is this Santa that we’ll focus on for a moment. Irving’s work influenced Charles Dickens as he wrote his Christmas Carol. Clement Moore took the picture that Irving painted and wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas. While you’ve probable never heard of that story, I’m willing to bet you have heard of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. That poem molded the tradition of Santa Claus that American in the next century commercialized ad nauseum.
I want to take a moment and ask you if Santa Claus has influenced your Christmas theology. The theology of the cross – Christianity – doesn’t have any room for lists of naughty and nice children (or adults). Yet isn’t that how we think sometimes? “I’m not finding blessing in my life because God is angry with me.” That’s terrible! God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. Santa is a harsh figure indeed! There is no room for grace in Santa theology.
I have to confess that Santa has found his way into my home. My children, at least the ones who wanted to, sat on Santa’s lap and took a picture. I’ve even played the part of Santa for a group of children. I think that many of the traditions of Santa are harmless and fun. The imagination of children is powerful. Let kids be kids! While a fantasy world is fun. A Christian does need to be aware of the harmless theology that comes along with that sleigh and reindeer.
Want to hear more? Watch this Sunday’s Bible class Gilded take from our series An American Christmas. The Apostle Paul quotes King David to refute Santa Theology. Check out Sunday’s sermon where David is promised rest when his descendant comes to save the world from sin.
Please click HERE for the Bible class slides.