Myth or Reality? – Redeeming Santa
How do our children know whether the stories they are told are myth or reality? Why should they believe the story of Christ and not the story of Santa? How can we help them understand that what they hear about Christ, the story of Christmas, is not just a story, but history? These are questions that many parents and churches ask.
We have spoken to Simon Camilleri, author of “When Santa learned the Gospel” on why he thinks books can offer a powerful tool to draw children closer to the Gospel of Christ. Here is what he had to say:
“I believe we can use the reality presented to those in the world to draw children into the reality of the Gospel. In my recent book, instead of tearing down the character of Santa, I chose to take Santa on a journey that would question his own world view and what he believes. Part of the Santa story is the idea that if you are good you get gifts and if you are bad you get a lump of coal. The Gospel turns that paradigm up–side–down and instead offers us mercy for our sins.
Books can offer a great way to help adults and children think about their own world–
view, be discerning and learn how to contrast what is true and what is false.
Another opportunity presents itself at the Christmas service in our churches. Every year, we see people who only ever come to church for Christmas. This is a wonderful occasion to share the truth of the Gospel – we don’t want to let this pass us by.
I have no qualms about using the concept of culture to point people to Christ. In Acts 17 Paul relates to the Greeks by referring to their culture, their gods, their poets and fictional characters in order to point to Christ. As Christians, we are called to be distinct and different, but that does not mean we are to be cut off from the world. We are called to the world.
Parents are presented with a multitude of opportunities to share the Gospel; with their children through books, with other parents over coffee or on a playdate at the park. There are many ways to do this. It is important that we stay engaged in the process, however. Putting a child in front of the TV can be just as bad as sitting a child down with a book and not talking to them about the content.
The value of a book is in sitting with your child and taking time to stop, pause, reflect and talk through ideas. As a dad myself, I love reading picture books with our little daughter of 3, Dorothy. At times we will stop, talk about a picture of a character or explain a word. Reading a book together offers a fruitful way of engaging with our children.
There are many other creative ways we can engage in a meaningful way. My wife, Catherine, and I love to do what our daughter enjoys naturally and give it a Gospel focus. Dorothy loves craft and she loves all things ‘glitter’. Recently, we developed a Gospel poster, drawing part of the gospel story each day and letting her decorate it with her favourite glitter stickers. It was wonderful to see her grow in her understanding of the story each day. Other times, we will act out the Easter story or the Christmas story. When you do this, why not gather others in your community to do the same. It then opens up the conversation and strengthens our community.
Also, you will be surprised how much children can and will understand.
I am passionate about seeing parents and churches equipped to reach out to the lost and using story–telling to do so. That is why I have put time into producing a set of free church resources which I hope will encourage people to share the Good News of Christ this Christmas.
Our culture embraces storytelling – let’s tell them the story of Christ, the one story that truly matters.”
When Santa Learned the Gospel is available to buy here.
Simon is an author and graphics designer and lives in Melbourne, Australia where he and his wife, Catherine and their daughter, Dorothy (3) attend Bundoora Presbyterian Church. Simon loves excellent public Bible reading, discussing the Gospel, inventing board games and learning magic tricks. You can follow his blog at:
You can also download resources to host a When Santa Learned the Gospel event here.
“When Santa learned the Gospel” celebrated its one–year anniversary in July.