Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After Interview With Santa

To see the news story vido which opened up the doors for this exclusive interview, click here.

I had the opportunity yesterday, Christmas Day to sit and visit with the Jolly Old Elf Santa himself. He was tired, but had recently seen a television report of me being Santa for the Homeless in Wichita and contacted me about how he appreciated that effort. The initial conversation was intended to be brief, but after a few moments he invited me to fly up with him to The North Pole to have an exclusive interview regarding the yearly events, and of the things to come along with desires for people in the future. I was honestly surprised at the seriousness of the interview, and although it wasn’t intended, there were some key spiritual themes that came out. The following are some key highlights of that exclusive interview.

Mike: Santa, after such a busy night you seem to be pretty refreshed, how do you do it?

Santa: It isn’t as bad as some people think it is. I sometimes think there is an assumption that I still live in the Stone Age or something. We have adapted and learned to use technology in the delivery of gifts. While I don’t want to give out too much, we have help with a lot of the gift giving. I don’t have to visit every home like I used to and the willingness of others to take on the spirit of Christmas makes it easier. I have a lot of loved ones providing way beyond what I used to.

Mike: So it is kind of like others are taking on the persona of Santa?

Santa: Exactly! It isn’t that far from what you and your church did when you took gifts to various families’ on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately though, we live in a world where there seems to be more need than ever. It is critical that other groups, especially the churches take on and do more. We already loose out on helping so many people who need just basic things each year.

Mike: Interesting, why would you say the churches need to do more and can you tell us more about how we are loosing out?

Santa: Well it is like this, the church you see should see and understand the seriousness and message of Christmas. I think people forget I was a bishop in the church. It was the love and life of Jesus Christ that drove me to do what I do and did. As a child this started early, when I saw a family with three daughters who were going to be sold into slavery, and likely ultimately prostitution. I realized that in my abundance, I couldn’t sit around and do nothing. I couldn’t just walk by knowing I had the means to help this family out. It was over the course of 3 years that I decided to throw in the money in secret to help so this family wouldn’t have to sell the daughters into slavery. They could have enough money to pay the marriage dowry which was the custom in the day. While throwing in that first batch, it fell into a stocking that was hanging by the chimney to dry. That is how that custom came about. I wanted to do it in secret to make sure God got all of the glory and to keep the family from being embarrassed. It wasn’t just my desire to help though; it was my desire to love as Jesus commanded us and is told by the Apostle John in the book of 1st John in the Bible.

What we are loosing out on is the joy it brings us to give to others. Sometimes people ask me why I am always so happy. Well, the truth is, I am not always happy, but I find myself happiest when I am giving and helping others in need. The sharing of life, the giving of ones self to help another is what truly brings joy. You know my faith is still really important to me. Jesus said that when we give to someone who is among the least, we are giving to him. The Bible goes on to even say if we see someone in need and don’t provide for them, especially if we have the means, then the love of God does not dwell within us. The Bible commands us to share God’s love with others.

So many people think we do this by just telling others about Jesus, yet if we look at the early church, the church I studied on trips to the Holy Land and in the study of Christianity in Alexandria, I saw the early church took this practice of giving and helping others, even those outside of the faith seriously. It is why in the book of Acts it says no one associated with the body had need. Now think about that, while many may think the early church only consisted of followers of Jesus, it simply isn’t true. There were people searching for truth who also lived in these family community groups who hadn’t fully made the decision to follow Jesus yet. While they technically were not a part of the church, they were as they lived among them and were searching for truth. We also know the early church on a regular basis helped meet the need of those around them in their communities. It was then, and still is now one of the early appeals of the church. It is unfortunate that so many that become dogmatic in their political views, seem to totally ignore the history of the early church.

Mike: So are you saying we are loosing out by not giving?

Santa: I am saying more than that, I am saying we have to on a regular basis share the real meaning of Christmas, and then from there, we have to share it in a complete way as we saw the early church do, and preach. We have to do more than tell people we love them, we have to show them by helping provide their needs.

Mike: Do you see a difference in the way world systems or governments get involved in this?

Santa: You bet I do, there is a tremendous difference. The problem though is that so many in the West assume that in the socialist systems of the world people rely solely on the government. The sad truth is that the churches in those countries seem to take their faith more seriously than those in the West. It isn’t that there are those in the West who doesn’t take their commitment seriously, but there are people around the world who practice the totality of their faith in the face of death. There are many in the West who practices their faith in the face of convenience. They seem to be more into their national politics than they are the practice of their faith and believe me, there is a huge difference in whether one practices faith in the face of death as opposed to convenience.

Mike: Interesting, so do you see the political systems having an impact on what Christmas is all about?

Santa: No, no, not at all, what I see is people who see it that way, but they have forgotten about this history of the church and the message of Jesus. Political systems have always, at least most always, been largely opposed to the message of Jesus. It is sad that many within the church even end up being more politically driven than spiritually driven. Of course when politics speak out against, harm, and hurt the people they are to serve, especially the poor and needy, the church has to speak out. History shows that the church changed many travesties. In your own country, its role in the abolishment of slavery, the civil rights movement, giving women the right to vote, and so much more was a part of the history of the church. It was the church who brought about the changes your society needed. To keep people from forgetting history, it was also many within the so called church who spoke out against the actual practice of faith. They were telling people that they needed to make sure they only preached the gospel and stay out of politics or even spoke out against the good some within the church were promoting. Unfortunately it was the critics then, and it is the critics now who discourage the followers of God to ignore the totality of the message. It is kind of like the faith and works argument I saw you were involved in. Some seem to ignore that you are talking about doing both. It is the same thing here, we have to talk about justice for the poor and needy, while at the same time acting for it in the name of God because it is ultimately God who gives complete and total liberty. So understand, it is not, nor has it ever been the political systems that drive the meaning of what Christmas is about. They influence it, but for those who know and practice the completeness of faith and action, message and serving, it is those people who will ultimately have an impact even beyond that of governments. Of course this at times comes at a temporary cost, but is not permanently lasting.

Mike: What kind of cost do you see this coming at?

Santa: Well to start of with look at Jesus. The powers that be at the time hated him. Look at Christians today who preach the complete message of loving and serving. You don’t have to go back far here, in your own civil rights movement you see people like Dr. King getting killed, you see churches getting bombed, you see even the homeless get labeled and discriminated against. Then there are the stereotypes towards the mentally ill. For the followers of Jesus who stand up against these types of injustices, they will in fact, have the powers that be and those that have been influenced by those powers ridicule them and try to publicly destroy their image and reputation, and even in some cases perpetuate harm in some way. The sad thing here is that some within the political systems are only using those in the religious community as pawns. The pawns seldom ever acquire royalty or equality, most of the time, they simply are used to advance and help the advances of royalty or the powerful. Just like in the game of chess, but the pawn is ore often than not the fool.

Mike: Wow, I didn’t realize how important these types of things were to you. Where does the drive come from?

Santa: Like I said earlier, before I was known of as Santa, I was Saint Nicholas but even before that, just Nicholas a follower of Jesus. I committed my life to serving the totality of Christ, especially the poor and needy, the orphan and the widow. Being the Patron Saint of Children and of Prisoners is something I cherish, not because of any recognition it has brought to me, but because of the influence and inspiration it has provided some to do the things I believe Jesus taught us all to do.

Mike: So what is the primary purpose you would want people to get from Christmas?

Santa: First of all to understand that for that child born in a manger, it didn’t end there, there is a cross and crucifixion that is a part of that story. The person Christmas is all about told each of us to take up our own cross and follow him daily. To follow Jesus means to follow him in all ways. When we bless ten, and only one comes back to say thank you, that doesn’t’ negate the importance of blessing the other nine. When we feed thousands, it doesn’t negate the fact that some of those fed are people who could care less about why we have fed them. Of course the message has to point back to Jesus, but our actions of following Jesus has to be the same of Jesus. He still washed the feet of Judas, even after he knew Judas was going to betray him. Any spirit that tells us to not listen to that message, likely isn’t the spirit of God because it is contrary to the message and life of Jesus.

Mike: What do you see regarding the future of Christmas?

Santa: I actually see for the immediate future, especially over the next year the potential for something positive if people think about it and get back to the roots. You see, as people who have had much, end up having little, they are reminded of the truly important things in life. They know about the simplicity of life and the importance of being loved. Nowhere is that love as complete as it is when it involves Jesus. If followers of Jesus, if the people of the planet see and understand that it is when they walk their talk that they have impact, people may continue to have less materially, but they will have more joy because they will have experienced ultimate love and purpose, but even more importantly, the hope that is provided by God and God alone.

Mike: Santa I usually ask folks I interview if there is anything they would like to share that they maybe haven’t shared before, how about it?

Santa: Hmmm, yea I have something Mike and thanks for asking this. I think people forget that the spirit of Jesus the change that Jesus brings about isn’t just a one day a year thing. The truth is we don’t even know for sure the day Jesus was born. I am honored that we celebrate his birth on December 25, because my birthday was on December 5. But the message we continue on isn’t about us, it is about those that God loved. The Bible speaks a great deal about the importance of helping those, loving those less fortunate. That message, and the message of challenging others to walk with Jesus needs to continue on every day of the year, yet sit back, listen and watch how quickly that message changes. Even now, I hear stories of people planning to indulge in self satisfaction parties where the celebration of the New Year is celebrated with the over indulgence of alcohol and raging parties to have a ‘good time.’ You will notice the desires of helping those in need are suddenly lost, the need to recognize the innocence of children is lost, instead what is important is a focus on self that is so self absorbing that people won’t care about the potential harm that can, and in fact will, come to innocents by intoxication and other self absorbed attitudes.

I want people to know and remember, the celebration of the birth of Jesus isn’t a one day thing, it is for those that follow him an everyday thing. Yet, when we follow Jesus, we need to follow his actions; otherwise, the words mean little. While being born again is important, in fact, critical, we break down the walls of communication when we show love and live with those we love; at that point people are open to the message. Jesus understood that, I only hope we do as well.

Mike: Santa, thanks so much for your time, I know you want to get some rest and I really appreciate you letting us see this side of you.

Santa: No problem Mike, the importance of getting out the complete message is worth it, even when we are tired. Too many of us make excuses, and I want to thank you for getting out this message and to those who adjust their lives accordingly. Now Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Epilog: While we spoke about a number of other things, like the reindeer, the most requested toys and the like, it was clear where Santa wanted the discussion to go. I left the interview feeling good, knowing of my own need to do better. I think it is Santa’s desire we all do better. In contrast to the things we spoke about most, I hope I have included the majority of things Santa wanted me to focus on. The above is a small portion of our interview, but one I think opens up some new light on the person himself. Hopefully you enjoy what I have included here as much as I enjoyed the opportunity to provide it for you.

The following is a video of a little known Christmas Classic. While my wife has her own version on Youtube, I like this one a lot, a classic from Bing Crosby. Just click on the video to watch and listen, if the video don't appear, click on the following link:

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