Christmas is for the Naughty List


We all know how Santa thinks. He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town. Of course this encourages us to be on the nice list and get our reward. This is a good technique for creating civil righteousness, that is outward behavior that benefits society. Nothing wrong with that. If getting a present for Christmas keeps you from disrupting society, then great! Santa basically acts as our parent or government. We get Santa punishment and reward all year round! What’s so special about December?

But Christmas is actually not for those on the nice list. Unlike Santa, who apparently sees you while you’re sleeping, God truly knows your heart and your mind. Therefore, no matter how good you might look on the outside to Santa, God knows you belong on the naughty list. It’s coal in the stocking for you again this year!

The Naughty List

But wait, the angels said something different that first Christmas. They came to shepherds keeping their fields at night. I’m not sure we can confirm these guys are on the nice list. Likely, they were not. Usually shepherds would be rough-handed dudes who you might find at the bar after work. Doesn’t mean they were bad per se. But they weren’t the blessed Virgin Mary. Yet the angels say, “For unto YOU is born a Savior.” Whether you are on the naughty list or not.

Well, actually Jesus’ birth is especially for those on the naughty list as He tells a group of Santas who questioned why He ate with sinners. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Of course it’s clear we are all sinners (on the naughty list.)

So, Merry Christmas sinner! Jesus was born for YOU. He died and rose for YOU! And He gives presents to you, presents only a naughty person and dying person can appreciate! Forgiveness and eternal life.


Rev. Joel Hess is the fortunate pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Cadillac, MI, where God’s reality pierces through our illusions by His Word, flesh and blood and gentle waters.  He is the author of many half written projects; a talented musician and artist.  His contributions to the Jagged Word deal with the intersection of theology, culture and the arts.

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