I Saw Santa Kneeling…at the Manger

Trends & Culture - December 21st, 2001
tokyoweekender_Santa and Jesus

Ev. Kenny Joseph

by Ev. Kenny Joseph

Going to a Thanksgiving dinner, walking past the Tokyo Ginza Church. I pointed out to my wife Lila and friends Rick and Toni Chase, “This is where our interpreter-friend, Mr. Kimiji Sato, was praying during World War II, when American bombs fell all over the area. One bomb went right through the roof of the church, landing five feet away from the praying Sato in the basement, but it did not explode. The hole in the roof was Sato’s cue that God still had a big job for him.”

From that time on, Sato interpreted for scores of American missionaries and evangelists. He personally passed out more than five million Gospel tracts on Shinjuku’s street corners and preached 90-second ser­mons between stop light changes.

I also told this story as I showed them the church’s glass-encased bulletin board: Some bar hostesses were on their way to a night club when one, seeing the picture of the Holy Family, huffed, “Wouldn’t you know! These Christians are even trying to butt into and exploit our Christmas parties!”

I asked Minoru, a 7-year-old Japanese boy, “What’s Christmas?” He answered, “Everybody knows! It’s Santa Claus’ birth­day! How come a smart sensei like you didn’t know that?”

That’s why I’m so glad Pat Boone wrote the song, “I saw Santa Kneeling at the Man­ager,” the chorus of which goes:
And I saw Santa praying at the Baby Jesus’
cradle worshipping the living Word;
Yes, I saw Santa praying;
I saw Santa kneel before the Lord.
Santa Claus was worshiping the Lord.

Nicholas Bakewell wrote an attractive children’s book called Santa and the Christ Child. Both of these turn the upside down into the right side up!

Sometimes I want to scream, “Hey, it’s Jesus’ birthday!”

In a recent letter to the editor, Andrew Miller of Osaka wrote:

“Christmas is a holy occasion.. .on Nov. 30, your paper carried a Christmas Special section that included 16 pages of shopping bargains and various commercial events. It never once mentioned, even indirectly, that Christmas is the time when God, out of His great love, performed one of two ultimate miracles and was born as a man to save mankind.

“Now, I’ve been in Japan too long to expect anything like a broad Christian response in a Buddhist land, but your I ‘Special’ was offensive in its j unapologetic exploitation of  the Christian church’s holiest occasion. Indeed, Christmas is holy. It’s as holy for Christians as Ramadan is for Muslims. I wonder what the Muslim reaction would be if Ramadan were ‘celebrated’ in this way?

“Your 16 pages could have a list of churches offer­ing Christmas services, and a couple of short messages from prominent pastors on the meaning and wonder of Christmas. Christmas is a time of great joy and wonder, but these cannot be found in shopping and partying. The real joy of Christmas is knowing Who is at the center of the celebration.”

So, since Christmas is about giving, not getting, what can you and I do further to make this the greatest Christmas of our lives?

What Gift Have I for Jesus?
(From Dayspring Cards)
What gift have I for the Christ Child?
What token can I bring?
What offering of gratitude
Can I lay before the King?
My best could never satisfy
The worthy Lamb of God.
My symbols of affection
Certainly would not.
A king deserves a royal prize
Beyond all earthly measure.
I’ll give my heart
And nothing less—
The highest of my treasure.

And then:

  1. Quit griping and start thanking. Compare yourself and your home with the Twin Towers’ victims and then those Afghan refugees we see on the nightly news. Could you make it through the winter sleeping on a blue tarp in a ditch as the snow falls, putting out the fire you made to cook some rice?
  2. Thank God. He has provided your salvation, waiting for you to pick it up and receive His Christmas gift. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. He died on the cross to pay for your sins. Get saved. Be born again and give God your heart and soul as a Christmas present to Him. I wear a lapel cross with the words, “Paid in Full.” That’s my sins, not my credit card!

None of the 3,000 religions in the world can guarantee you the assurance of eternal life. These suicide bombers are in a religion of works—praying five times a day and believing their dying is going to take them to heaven. Their god is a fierce, judgmental god, yet a suicide bomber of the Twin Towers, Mohamed Atta, left his last-minute instructions which said, “Do not be afraid to die because waiting for you in paradise are beautiful virgins to satisfy all your needs.”

Let’s think what we can do to give, not get, this Christmas.

Make some rice balls wrapped in sea­weed and pass them out to the homeless with a “Merry Christmas” and, if possible, a Christmas Gospel tract, to the hundreds at Shinjuku and Sanya. Call Japan’s Moth­er Morimoto at 3881-2390 and find out what she needs for her daily patrol passing out noodles, not to “bums,” but to some of the 8,000 re-structured construction work­ers who built Japan and are now living on the streets.

If you can’t cook or go, send money donations to help her. I am on her board and preach for her to 200 men waiting for the evening meal. She is the strongest man of Tokyo’s 800 preachers, pushing on with a weak heart and liver problems. You can send your donation to Postal Transfer (Yubin Furikae) #0117-7-16221, REAP-Ketsudan. You’ll get a receipt on the spot.

Check the church lists in The Japan Times or the NTT Town Page English-lan­guage telephone directory of churches from Pages 276 to 285. There is a church near you. Drop in there in your regu­lar clothes. If you’re a cookie baker, make a batch of 100 and do what Lila does: fix them up in Christ­mas boxes and give them to everyone we see regularly: the mailman, shopkeepers, the paper boy, neighbors and others.

Here are the Best 10 ways to have a Happy, Merry Christmas:

1. Do something nice for someone.
2. Treat others as you wish to be treated.
3. Forgive.
4. Help someone.
5. Ask God to bless your enemy.
6. Raise someone’s spirit.
7. Nurture your body.
8. Re careful about what you say.
9. Don’t strike back.
10. Get saved and start to go spiritually.

Join Santa Claus and me in kneeling at the manger and come with big eyes of won­der as the little boy said, “I knew you’d like to see how all this Christmas joy was born.”I knew you’d like to see how all this Christmas joy was born.