Let’s be honest for a moment … the Elf on the Shelf is a terrifying concept.  Isn’t it?  I mean seriously.  Santa sends an elf to live in your home and spy on you for a few weeks before Christmas to make sure you are “good enough” to be on the”nice” list?  Sweet dreams, junior.

No thank you.  I had enough trouble falling asleep as a child with the shadows of tree branches dancing on my curtains and an overactive imagination.  Actual creepy dolls that moved day after day recording my actions?  Yikes.

Now, of course, these dolls really ARE NOT connected to reality.  There is no chain of command outside our home spying on us through cameras hidden in dolls.  They don’t need to resort to those tactics.  “The establishment” already has Siri and Alexa to do this covert work for them … but I digress.

I want to focus for just a moment, though, on the concept of Christmas gifts going to the “nice” and not the “naughty.”  Where did this idea come from anyway?  Well in the west, many countries had traditions about Santa leaving sweets or toys for children if they were “good” while leaving sticks or a lump of coal if they were “bad.”  Exactly what constituted good and bad?  I have no idea … but it was another tool to try to keep children in line.  This idea was popularized even further in the 1934 song “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”  In this song, the familiar lyric is shared, “He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice, Santa Claus is comin’ to town!”  

The reality is, deep within each of us we have such a belief in people “getting what they deserve” that we even write this narrative into our fairy tales.  I think our desire for this is actually anchored in our desire for justice.  There is a problem with this way of thinking, though.  How do I know “how good is good enough?”  I mean, none of us have been “nice”  all year through.  It is 2020 for crying out loud!  our normal sinfulness has been amplified by being sifted through this pandemic’s strain!  Since none of us are 100% “nice” how “nice” do we need to be to get a “Christmas Gift?”  Or will Santa’s delivery schedule just be that much shorter this year?

Well, the reality is this.  Our God sees and knows all.  He (not Santa) sees us when we’re sleeping.  He knows when we’re awake.  He knows when we’ve been bad or good.  

Oh no.  For goodness sakes!

All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God.  The more we examine our lives, the more real this reality becomes.  Therefore, are we without hope?  Is there no way we can receive “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and “grace upon grace”?  

Well, if our reception of these gifts depends on our “niceness” then we are out of luck.  But by an amazing demonstration of grace, we find out that Jesus is a gift given by God NOT to those on the “nice” list, but the naughty!  Not just to the clean but to the dirty!!  Jesus said so Himself, “I did not come for the healthy, I came for the sick.”  He came to rescue sick and sinful and dirty people –  like you and me.

This Sunday at Wildwood in our 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30 services (and at 10:15 online in the stream wildwoodchurch.org/live ) we will be looking at part 3 of our “The Gift” sermon series, seeing how the Gift of Jesus is given to the dirty … and we are reminded of that reality through the angelic message to the shepherds in Luke 2:8-20.  Join us this Sunday as we look at this blessed section of God’s Word together.  Join us, and bring friends!  This passage is a gift for all of us to enjoy.


This sermon is part of the 2020 Christmas series at Wildwood.  We have also prepared a Devotional Book, “The Gift.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

Wildwood has put together a list of Christmas songs in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

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