By Dr. Michael Layne
---- — Do you remember your first exposure to Jesus Christ?
For some of us, it was at Christmas time as we prepared for the season and our parents would tell us the Christmas story. Back in the day, we even heard the story in our public schools.
There would be Christmas plays at church and school. Of course we heard about Santa Claus also, but as we got a little older we tried to deny there was a Santa, though deep down within we hoped he would show up by Christmas morning.
I remember at one point we lived in a downtown apartment building in Springfield, Ohio. It was summer time, and as I was looking out the window I saw the Trailways bus pull in at the depot. As I watched the people get off the bus, I did a double take. There he was, Santa Claus, in a white shirt, red trousers, suspenders and carrying his red coat.
Well, I had to go see for myself what was going on. After all this is July not December. I made my way to the bus station and there he was, a jolly looking gentleman with a white beard and glasses. I sat down beside him and we spoke. I noticed there was a name tag on a suitcase he was carrying and it indicated he was from someplace in Indiana.
I didn’t spend too much time but, I did tell him I had no idea what I wanted for Christmas since it was a few months down the road. He smiled and said he would know before that time came.
Well, that’s an experience I have never forgotten, and it does give me a warm feeling even to this day. I met someone who looked like Santa, dressed like Santa and I believe spoke like Santa.
When I worked in law enforcement in Texas, we were having a very boring shift, so I went into the dispatch office and ran a name through the state’s License Issuance and Driving Record (LIDR). The name I ran was Santa Claus. Sure enough it came up. A white male, 6’1” with blonde hair and lived in a suburb of Dallas. So, I guess we can really say there is a Santa Claus. I later understood that he had facial hair and portrayed Santa at Christmas time.
It is important to note that we would not celebrate Christmas had Jesus not been born. When I was old enough to understand the reason we celebrated Christmas, I found myself wanting to know more about Jesus. I would read whatever I could find that gave information about Him and the reason He came to this earth to begin with.
Our Lord said that He “Came to seek and save that which was lost.” That means every human being has an opportunity to experience new life. Just as we experienced receiving gifts at Christmas, we can receive the most precious gift there is: the love and eternal life which is a gift from our Lord.
Remember the Mission Statement of the Fellowship of the Unashamed: “My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is in God’s hands. My face is set. My gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, and my mission is clear. I am a disciple of Jesus.”
As you continue your journey, go in faith, knowing that God loves you. He loved humanity so much He has given us the greatest gift of all, eternal life when this earthly life is over. Until that time, be faithful in your walk with the Lord.
The Most Rev. Michael Layne, PhD, ThD, is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-614-2160 or, firstname.lastname@example.org.