Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa Claus is Not the First Person of the Trinity

A few years ago a friend told me about an incident that occurred in his church. His wife was the church organist and one Sunday morning, while she was softly playing underneath the prayer of the pastor, she smoothly transitioned into a very slow, soothing rendition of “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” Because the tempo was so slow, no one even noticed.

We laughed about that at the time, but I was puzzled about how that could even happen without notice. I was convinced that something like that would not happen in most churches and could never happen in my church. However, secular music is not unusual in a lot of churches today.

From start to finish, usually, every element of a church’s worship service is carefully planned to accomplish a purpose. But the important question is, “What is the purpose?” The answer to that question determines what a congregation will or will not tolerate.

There are two opposing ideologies about the purpose of corporate worship services. One idea is to market the event to be attractive to a broad spectrum of unchurched and unregenerated “seekers” in hopes of engaging their emotions and tastes with the goal of eventually exposing them to the personal benefits of Christianity. In that model, entertainment and familiarity are key environmental factors to entice them in and much of the content is focused on the participants.

On the other hand, biblical worship is intended to make God the center of all attention. All worship is to Him and for Him. Any element that could detract attention from God to anyone else is avoided. Anything designed for the entertainment of the congregation is inappropriate.

You can tell a lot about a church’s philosophy and purpose by observing what they do in their “worship services.”

During one Christmas season, I attended a church service where the opening music, the Call To Worship, was a Christmas medley. The titles of the songs in the medley included “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” “Deck the Halls,” “Up On The Housetop,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Jingle Bells” and others.  I'm not kidding!  This was in a (self-proclaimed) conservative Baptist church.  I don't go there anymore.

It was very clear that the music in that church that morning was intended for entertainment; not for worship. It focused everyone’s attention on a mythical, fat old elf in a red suit instead of the birth of the Son of God who was born to die so that He could save His people.

We should remember that, as much as some people would like to think that God should give us lots of good stuff just for being good, Santa Clause is NOT the first person of the


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