It wasn't a job I volunteered to do, but the process of finding someone else to do it had failed, so I was "railroaded" into doing it. I had been assured the suit would fit because it was fully adjustable. If extra padding were necessary it would be provided. Yes, I was going to be Santa Claus for my oldest son's first grade class.
I picked up the suit the day before the class party and successfully kept it hidden from my son. I couldn't have him figuring out the secret and telling all the other kids. I felt very confident in my ability to pull off this job without my own son realizing it was me inside that suit.
My grand entry was to be at 2:00 and I was right on time. The teacher walked to the classroom door and opened it while announcing to the class, "Look who is here......its Santa!" I walked in with "Ho, Ho, Ho," while the children cheered. This party was on!
Amid the excitement of all the children, and while I was making my way toward the Christmas tree in the corner, a boy from the class (every class has a troublemaker) announced, "Hey Ronnie, it's really your dad!" Ronnie came closer, examining me from head to toe, his eyes attempting to find me behind the long flowing beard and the stuffed red suit. I felt a little relief when Ronnie responded to the other boy, "No, it's not!" I don't know how long it took him to know it was me, but before the party was over, everyone in that class was calling me by my real name.
While recalling that story today, a verse of scripture came to mind and I cannot stop thinking about it. The verse is recorded in the somewhat brief description of Jesus entering the world. We are all familiar with Matthew's genealogy, and Luke's detailed account of the Christ-child. Another writer of gospel accounts simply mentions Jesus showing up on the earthly scene with, "the Word became flesh and dwelled among us." God gave us some things to figure out from John's account of the gospel with implication that Jesus had been around since before creation, and it was now that God chose for him to come in human form and actually live among us.
John has something else to say in this strange announcement of Jesus living among men. It's in John 1:11-13. The something else, makes all the difference for you and me. "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."
I played Santa at a first grade Christmas party and my own son didn't recognize me. Jesus, the Son of God came to earth and lived among men, but his own people did not believe it was him. Look again, "12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."
That's the real Christmas story. We can still receive him today. He gives us the right to become children of God.