Message from Jon – December 2020
Dear Members and Friends:
When our girls were little my father used to dress up as Santa Claus and visit us on Christmas Day. Everyone in the family looked forward to his visit. The adults drove up the anticipation and the kids squealed with delight. Eventually the girls recognized that Gramps was Santa, but even so, we kept the tradition alive for years afterward.
One year I played Santa for my newborn niece. The role then migrated to her father. He kept the magic alive. Now that this niece is 18 and I am a new grandfather the Santa suit was mailed to me in November.
So the delight continues! But this time, unlike 18 years ago, I didn’t need any additional padding in the suit. Funny how that happens! And I also realized that the glasses I am wearing in the photo were the glasses my father got at age 18 as he was about to head out to war in the South Pacific. I knew what I would see through those glasses – a precious little grandson. And I remembered what my father told me he had seen in the war. It took him sixty years to be able to share those memories.
The photo on the right shows me holding three-month-old Wyatt. He is too young to be afraid of Santa. So he smiled and wrapped his fist in my beard. We were all reborn in that moment.
The church I served before coming to Seattle had adopted an inner city school. Most of the families whose kids attended the school lived in a nearby housing project. Each December we hosted a large holiday event for these families. Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, singing in English and Spanish, dancing and gift giving. Yes, Santa made an appearance, distributed gifts and left after the final photo shoot. And you can guess who Santa was.
One year as I was about to leave a little girl chased after me. She grabbed the back of my coat and said, “Santa, do you know where I live?” I don’t remember what I said to her, it seemed to satisfy her, but I have been thinking about her question for twenty-five years.
She was asking me if I saw her and whether or not I would come through for her.
Who do we see? Who do we not see? There are a lot of people we do not want to see because we know deep down that if we did we would need to come through for them. So we choose blindness and see neither them nor ourselves. This is one of the great tragedies of the human race.
But like Charles Dickens I believe that Christmas is about our reclamation as human beings. Christmas is an opportunity for us to finally see what we have not yet truly seen and to come through as the joyously generous and loving persons each of us can be.
Rev. Jon M. Luopa