They prance and dance, snort and snicker, cheer and chant. No, I’m not referring to Santa’s reindeer. I’m referring to mascots. Every sporting event has its mascots. They stir up the crowd, encourage participation, summon team spirit.
Sometimes we place the Christ-child next to Santa as just another Christmas mascot. The feel-good stable story (we love our underdogs) adds to the magic of Christmas: the pastoral environment of straw and animals, an inexplicable star, the mystic of traveling sages, the humbleness of shepherds, and a swaddled newborn.
Christ is not a mascot. He doesn’t bring good luck. He isn’t a cheerleader for the Kingdom of God. He doesn’t represent God. He is God. And he didn’t come to be the focal point of our nativity for four weeks before being packed back up in a box for the rest of the year.
Jesus is a year-round Savior. Our worship of him in January should be as devoted as our worship of him during his “public” season. Jesus warned against half-hearted discipleship. You couldn’t follow him and look another direction as well. It was daily cross-bearing, not seasonal cross-bearing.
“No one can serve two masters.” (Matthew 6:24)
If you want to feel good this Christmas, put on some sentimental music. If you want to get pepped up for the new year, decorate your house and drink some eggnog. But if you want a Savior, head to the manger and kneel before the King. If you want new life, absorb the words of Luke’s Gospel, “‘He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’” (Luke 1:24)