Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Saint Nick at The Cross

Every year I joy at getting to play the part of Saint Nick, or as some have identified him as, Santa. This year is no exception. There are 2 things that are new. My hair and beard is complete, no fake beard, no cans of spray paint, I decided to make the commitment, to get my hair and beard done. It has been getting more and more gray so my daughter in law, Emily, willingly volunteered to do it for me. I think there is one more treatment in the works but so far, it has been fantastic. There is something else new this year; the suit.  I have had one suit my wife custom made me around 10 years ago, this year,  we went all out with a very nice, exceptional custom suit. It is so much nicer than the rented suits I had years ago. The finishing touches are being made and it looks great! 

Now as many may or may not know, this is something I have for at least 35 years.  I love the character of Saint Nicholas. A number of years ago I started extensive research on the person of Saint Nicholas and the history behind him. I wrote a one man play called The Real St. Nick and Jesus. I have performed it over the years and am honored to dispel and share the differences between the myths of Santa and the intertwined concepts of the historical character. 

www.thevirtualpew.comEvery year for the last few years I have also done 2 things I love, played the part of Santa to the Homeless which I am honored to say many from across the globe have picked up and done following our model here in Wichita. I have also done Santa for Wichita's professional soccer team, previously, The Wichita Wings, and this year the new Wichita B-52's. Giving back to the community of which I am a part of is a real blessing for me.

This year Tony Schock, a local photographer who runs GS Memorymakers Photography and does a lot of local sports photographs is once again doing free Santa photo give a ways at one of the B-52's home soccer games. I went yesterday to have promo photos taken.

Over the last weeks and even for years I have been intrigued with some of the Santa photos I have seen. The one of Santa kneeling at a manger I replicated some time ago. I have one with me kneeling at the manger from the play I do, but this year, while visiting Hobby Lobby, I fell in love with a photo of Santa holding a snow globe, looking into it and seeing the image of the Christmas manger.  While I don't own that image, I would love to have it to display in our house. It got me to thinking though, if Tony  could do something like that, say with me holding a cross. You see, I have always felt, the Christmas story isn't complete without the cross, in fact, it is with the cross that the Christmas story in some ways comes to a conclusion.  While going to my appointment I took an old cross from the house that had hung in two churches I had been pastor at, United at the Cross in Wichita and the current church I am at now, Mosaic.  I thought what the heck, I'll ask Tony if he would be willing to take a couple of shots like this. 

www.mosaicwichita.comTony unbeknownst to him, likely until reading this now, didn't know of the photo of Santa holding and looking at a snow globe the image of the manger I had seen at Hobby Lobby.  He agreed to the photo though and after the photo was taken he told me of a thing he had where he could put the image in a snow globe. The image and idea of Santa kneeling at the cross was my idea, but Tony as I have said before did all of the magic related to the photograph. I don't know if it was by intent or not but if looking closely at the image, blowing it up to my face, it even looks like a snow flake or possibly a tear is falling from my eye. I love the finished image and over the last hours, that image has been getting shared across the net and I am  getting all kinds of responses to the image, a simple one of Santa kneeling and reflecting on the cross. 

That is a reminder I think for some reason touches people, it is an image I genuinely hope causes people to focus on the reality, that yes, Christmas is about the manger but even Saint Nicholas understood the role the cross plays in Christmas. I am sharing it here, and only ask that if sharing it in other places, that respect is given the image but also acknowledgement to Tony, and the work of Mosaic and The Virtual Pew.  I hope to next Christmas have some cards with Santa reflecting on the truth behind God, and Christmas along with other items where the proceeds from the sale of those items benefit various ministries I am a part of, including of course, the homeless we are honored to serve.  Who knows, maybe we can even come up with a real snow globe.  Until then, reflect during this season, just as Saint Nicholas of the role of the cross in the Christmas story.

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