Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
SPOILER ALERT - Parents with small children may wish to evaluate this devotion before sharing it with all age groups.
The beginning part of this week we're looking at some folks who seem to have missed both the secular and the Christian spirit of the Savior's birth.
Carole Slotterback, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, is not one of those people. On the other hand, her habit of reading letters has introduced her to some who are.
You see, Slotterback reads letters that have been sent to Santa. For five years she read and analyzed 1,200 letters written to the jolly old saint.
The letters were composed on all types of paper, written and printed in all colors of ink and crayon. Some of the children decorated their letters with pictures, and many gave Santa information he really didn't need. As a precaution, let me say this: parents, if your children write to Santa, you ought to make sure they don't send addresses, photographs, cell phone, and home phone numbers.
As to the results, Slotterback says she was touched by many of the letters. I think most of us would have joined her in shedding a tear after reading the request that asked Santa to bring a mommy to a family.
In her study, Slotterback also noted there were some themes that ran through many of the letters from the little ones.
Some of those themes come as no surprise to most adults. I don't think many of you would be terribly shocked to find most of the children were definite in saying that Santa should not bring them any clothes!
There is another theme; however, another trait running through many of these letters. High on that list would be this: most of the children aren't as polite as they ought to be. As Slotterback puts it, "you'd think if you were asking for a lot of presents, you would throw in a 'please' or a 'thank you.'"
Slotterback is right. The children ought to be thankful.
Of course, it's not just children who are sometimes remiss in offering proper thanksgiving for God's manifold gifts. That sin is definitely part of human nature and the fallen human condition.
Now you know where this devotion is going, don't you? Even so, I encourage you to remind the children and grandchildren to say thanks for all they have been given. Let us encourage each other to give thanks for God's greatest gift: the Savior Christ the Lord.
And the greatest and easiest way to show that thanks is to worship the Christ. In our hymns, in our feasting, in our presents, in our prayers, in our church attendance, let's show the children and the unbelieving world the thanksgiving we have for a Redeemer who was born to give His life as a ransom -- a ransom to rescue us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, although I ask it always, especially this Christmas week, I pray You will create a thankful heart within me. Grateful for Your grace as delivered in the person of Your Son, may I show to all, especially the children, the impact of the salvation that is given in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries