Advent Devotion 5

12.5.19

Naughty or Nice?

I still love to sing the Christmas song, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town.’ The tune has a great
bounce. And there is that all-watchful image of Santa Claus, seeing you when you are sleeping
and when you are awake. Knowing if you are bad or good. Santa is elevated to a god-like
figure.

And when it all shakes down, you’re either going to be on one list or the other – naughty or nice.
And that determines everything else. Well, that sentiment may elicit good behavior from
children in the lead up to Christmas, but as we get older we realize that naughty or nice is not
that simple. No one is completely naughty. We’re taken aback when someone we’ve written off
does something generous or kind or compassionate. Oops! And we’re shaken when someone
we know as good shows a moral failing. Oops! We’re reminded again and again that no one is
completely naughty. And no one is completely nice. We just have to look in the mirror.

Really, Jesus was challenging people’’s judgments about who was naughty and who was nice
all of the time. The highly respected religious leaders got lambasted – but they were thought of
as “nice,” And a reprobate tax collector like Zacchaeus, decidedly “naughty,” becomes a model
disciple. Go figure!

This is a season to remember that we are all naughty and nice. We all have the capacity for
both and we all exhibit both tendencies. So, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge –
ourselves or others.

Prayer
May we look for the good in ourselves and others. May we affirm and encourage the capacity
for being kind and generous and compassionate. And may we show understanding and
forgiveness toward ourselves and others when we are less that we could be and so embrace
and affirm our full humanity. Amen.

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