I came to the church as interim pastor in late summer, two old congregations merged and buil a fine new church home. I immediately sensed points of tension between older, ultra-conservative members and newcomers. The tension surfaced as Christmas came on. Conservatives were strongly anti-Santa. Risking their wrath, I hatched a scheme with a friend who had a Santa suit and the physique to go with it. I told no one but the lead usher, who guarded the foyer.
I worked with the Christmas program committee, creating a role that involved a large, armless rocking chair on the platform. All went well:: wise men and shepherds in bathrobes, rustic crèche, songs and lisping pieces that charmed grandparents.
As the evening wound down, commotion stirred in the foyer. With a boisterous Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa Clause appeared and made his way down the center aisle tossing candies right and left, shouting Merry Christmas! Santa! I called, What are you doing here? This is a church! He replied, It’s Christmas, a time for joy and giving! Get up here, I ordered, I’ll tell you about Christmas.
Santa walked tentatively to my chair and sat on my knee. He listened intently while I told the Christmas story as I would to a child. The anti-Santa folks melted. I closed by quoting John 3:16–the greatest-ever gift.
Old Grandpa Lloyd