GREENSBURG – 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 summertime 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 is 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 gives me a warm feeling even to this day. I met someone who looked like Santa, dressed as 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 States’ 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 who lived in a suburb of Dallas. 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.

A few years ago, I received an email from Santa Claus. I thought this is going to be good. When I opened the email the writer described himself as Santa Claus and explained that was his given name and he lived in North Pole, Alaska. He was the current president of the local Chamber of Commerce. He went on to say that he also worked as a child advocate and was not happy with the commercialization of Christmas. We continue to connect to this day via email.

Our Lord said that He, “Came to seek and save that which was lost.” That means every human being has an opportunity to experience a 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.

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Most Rev. Michael Layne, PhD, ThD, is an Archbishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-614-2160 or, www.faithpoints.org.