The first time I saw it, I fell in love with the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival at University Christian Church in Ft. Worth, TX. It’s a Renaissance-style worship service with Epiphany themes, full of colorful sprites and troubadours and dancing maidens. My middle sister plays percussion in the orchestra, which is another reason I like to show up. You haven’t heard someone ding a chime until you hear my sister do it.
Last Saturday, near the end of the festival, the Wise Men solemnly processed down the aisles with their precious gifts. The first magi was adorned in purple splendor, his face and head disguised with a snowy wig and beard set. Suddenly, a small child in the front row shouted with joy: “Santa Claus! Look, Mommy – Santa Claus!” A collective chuckle rippled through the congregation, even as the Wise Man continued his stately march.
One day, Jesus told His disciples that they must become like children if they wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 18:2-3). In fact, he called a little child to Him to make it an object lesson. I like to think of the kid as squirmy and wiggly, maybe with smudges on his face from playing in the dirt and blurting out things like the unself-conscious child at the Boar’s Head festival.
In the Greco-Roman world of that time, kids had no rights or value. One Greek word for “child” meant “servant” or “slave,” and philosophers used another as an insult for someone they considered foolish. So Jesus was making a controversial statement, indeed, when he declared that only the childlike would experience the kingdom.
The disciples’ faces probably looked like this:
I think what Jesus was getting at is that children are dependent. My 13-month old granddaughter, for instance, can’t cook dinner, drive a car, or get a job. She’s not even walking yet. Charlotte totally relies on her mom and dad to get what she needs.
The Bible has a lot to say about relying on our Father in heaven:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” (Prov 3:5).
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psa 121:1-2).
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matt 6:31-32).
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7).
We like to think we control a lot of things in our lives and, to some extent, we do. We can control what we watch on TV, what we eat, who we allow into our hearts. But we can’t control everything. We can’t control the weather, or traffic, or gas prices. We weren’t given a choice on what family we were born into, and we certainly can’t control what others think about us.
Some things we just have to let go.
In all things, we can learn to trust God like children trust their parents.
And down the road, if we experience a “God-moment” that awes us as much as Santa does to a small child, it’s okay to let out a squeal of joy. We have permission from Jesus Himself.