“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
Weather radar is amazing.
I have a weather app on my cell phone, and it can tell me exactly how far away the nearest snowstorm is. And is it accurate! When storms are approaching my neighborhood, it calculates within minutes when the snowfall will be the heaviest. And sure enough, it’s not long before my sidewalks are covered with snow. It came.
It’s also helpful when I’m heading out. That app tells me whether or not I need to grab my boots and shovel to clear my driveway before leaving for the day. It’s about the closest I’ll ever get to knowing what the future holds.
An absent gift-giver
In recent years, it has become customary for TV weather experts to add a short, silly segment to their daily forecast around Christmastime—the “Santa radar.” I was surprised to discover that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has provided a simulated tracking of Old St. Nick’s toy-laden sleigh in the days leading up to Christmas since 1955. Maybe I missed it as a kid, but this “forecast” seems to have risen in popularity over the past decade or two. For children, it’s exciting to imagine what gifts Santa Claus might be delivering to their homes in the not-too-distant future. But we all learn that Santa never actually shows up. He’s not coming.
We wait in daily repentance and share his gospel with others so they too will repent. Jesus will come!
But once upon a time he did. Back in the fourth century A.D., he was known as St. Nicholas of Myra, a faithful bishop of the early Christian church. Legend has it that Nicholas was a generous giver of gifts to the poor. So it became popular in the Middle Ages to give gifts on Dec. 6, the day on which many Christians still remember his pastoral ministry. When Dutch Christians said his name, it apparently sounded like Santa Claus, and the name stuck.
Martin Luther is said to have been the one who suggested that credit for gift-giving should be transferred from St. Nick to the giver of all gifts, the Christ Child, Jesus. He also apparently instructed people to exchange gifts on Dec. 25, the church’s celebration of the Savior’s birth.
These days, the Christ Child sadly takes a back seat to a commercially secularized Santa, who is nothing more than a running gag passed along from one generation to the next. Eventually everyone comes to understand that Santa’s not really coming. If he is, then where is he?
A Gift-giver who is coming
Do we have the same impression of Jesus? Is talk of his coming again in judgment and salvation nothing more than a running joke, a silly myth that we pass along from one generation to the next?
Already in the first years after Jesus’ ascension, people were suggesting that very thing. In his second letter, St. Peter warned about those “scoffers” who ask, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” (2 Peter 3:3,4). And then he reminds us that Jesus is “not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness” (3:9).
So what’s the holdup? He’s being patient, waiting to gather those who need to get their spiritual act together before his return. Us too. Peter wrote, Jesus is being “patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). No joke. It’s real.
So we wait in daily repentance and share his gospel with others so they too will repent. Jesus will come!
Author: Peter Prange
Volume 108, Number 12
Issue: December 2021