“It’s like the song, ‘You better not pout, you better not cry, Santa Claus is coming to town.’”
The kid is what we lovingly call “a mess.” Homework at his level is fairly rote: Spelling, Math, History Litany (a chronological list of events with dates and scripture references), and
“I forgot” is his favorite excuse. Not paying attention is his favorite pastime. He’s had to be moved away from any window in the classroom. The temptation to gaze outside is too great. His desk was once turned sideways to the room. He spent so much time with his head on his hand lost in dreamland it was the only hope of getting him to look toward the front of the room and the board where the lesson is going on. During Latin Pastor will gently bring him back to the game with a song, “One of these boys is not like the others; one of these boys doesn’t belong. One of these boys isn’t on the same page; one of these boys isn’t playing along.”
Yet here we were, engaged in a conversation on the end times. The chapel reading that week was Luke 21:25-36. The changing seasons alert us to when summer is near. In the same way, distresses upon the earth—among nations, between people, and in the weather—signal changes of another sort. Some will become faint with fear. Others will expend their lives foolishly. But Jesus says to do none of these things. Instead He says to look up, “For your redemption is near.” Jesus reminds us to put our hope in that which is real: Himself.
With the insight and sanctified memory of an eight-year-old, my mess of a student said, “It’s like the song, ‘You better not pout, you better not cry, Santa Claus is coming to town.’ Jesus is coming with His Gifts of Baptism and His Body and Blood. So we don’t have anything to worry about when the world is falling apart.” And this one knows a good deal about worlds falling apart.
Little things this one forgets, like homework. Big things he remembers, like chapel sermons from his pastor. Pastor uses the “Santa Claus is coming to town” illustration every year at this time to bring home the point of difference between what Christ gives and what the world gives at Christmas.
What is Math and History compared to what the Holy Spirit teaches this one at school? This child is a precious treasure, wrapped in Christ and fed by His Word.