I read a story this past week regarding an incident that took place at a local church. St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Cleburne was recently the site of a protest. Several people were involved including the arrest of one person for criminal trespass. Why would anyone want to protest against a church, particularly at Christmas time? The church was holding a Breakfast with Santa event when demonstrators started showing up to protest the presence of Santa. The protestors felt as though the church was wrong in promoting Santa instead of Jesus.
I’m not familiar with St. Mark’s church but I would guess that they do a lot to promote Jesus in their weekly services and events. Though some churches frown upon the recognition of secular images, it’s really not reasonable to criticize a church for observing special holidays. Each holiday has generally been associated with some sort of religious influence. Halloween, for example, is an observance that is attached to the church’s observation of All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve. Christmas is tied with the birth of Jesus. Easter eggs are associated with the birth of a new life in Christ. And yet each of these holidays utilize “secular” images and symbols that have been passed down over the generations of time. Many churches accept the idea that “God is at work in history . . . to make a new creation of it; he takes a world corrupted by evil and begins the long, slow work of transforming it into a holy place.” Indeed, some holiday observances have questionable backgrounds, but thanks be to God for transforming what was once harmful into what is now good. A new creation!
As previously noted, there are some worshipping communities that do not accept the most common imageries associated with holidays, such as Santa or the Easter Bunny. This perspective is understandable and should be respected. However, it should also be understood that such imagery is a part of the creative mindset of child’s play. For many people, Halloween, Christmas, and Easter are joyous and yet innocent observations that bring light into the imagination of both children and adults. I suspect that Jesus would welcome any occasion that would light up a child’s eyes and bring joy into the hearts of God’s children, even if that joy is by way of Santa Claus.
Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!
 Eugene H. Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005), 169.