Sermon Text: Santa Krampus
I got through another Christmas without trouble from the Krampus. And this is good news.
Years ago, I learned about the Krampus from my dear Hungarian friend, Val Young. In some European cultures, St. Nicholas’ Day, December 6, is a much bigger deal than it is here in the U.S. And the visit from St. Nicholas is followed by a visit from the Krampus.
The word “Krampus” comes from the old German word for “claw.” The Krampus is a bad guy. He looks like a scary devil, and he is said to come around with chains and a burlap bag. And if you’re a kid, the grownups tell you that if you’re really bad, the Krampus is going to get you!
I didn’t grow up with that legend, but it might have convinced me to behave better as a kid near Christmas time. Then again, it might not have. It’s another attempt by parents to get their kids to behave.
My friend Val is the one who has taught me about the Krampus. Maybe she’s trying to get me to behave, I don’t know. She also gave me a little toy Krampus, and I treasure it.
But as I said, I had no trouble from Santa Krampus this year.
However, preachers at Christmastime can get grumpy. We get pretty busy, and we also can get upset with all the commercialism around Christmas. We say things like, “Christmas is not about getting more stuff! Christmas is not about receiving presents! Christmas is about giving, and about the birth of the Christ Child.”
That’s all true, of course. But maybe we preachers over-react a little about Christmas presents. In a way, Christmas really is all about the presents. Christmas is all about receiving. Christmas is really one big gift.
The central claim of Christianity is that God has come among us as a human being. God was born as a baby boy in Bethlehem. So now, God knows how we feel. God knows what it’s like to be human. God knows us close up. And that’s the gift.
A gift says, “I care about you,” which is exactly what God says to human beings through the Christmas story.
Life itself, like Christmas, is all about gifts. Life was given to you and to me as a gift — we didn’t decide to get born. It was just given to us. Same goes for God’s love. It is just given to us. All we do is open our hands and receive the gift like children.
Children are talented at receiving gifts. They know what to do! And Jesus told us to become like children. Not childish, but child-like. And maybe he meant we can learn from kids how to receive gifts — with open hands.
I love the story about a little girl in a Christmas pageant. Her part was to be the Star of Bethlehem. After the first rehearsal, she came home and burst through the door. She was excited because she had her costume. It was a five-pointed star in shiny gold tinsel. It was designed to drape over her like a sandwich board.
Her mother asked, “And what are you supposed to do during the pageant?” The little girl answered, “I just stand there and SHINE!”
Pretty good answer. We are all God’s kids, and part of our job is to stand there and shine.
The Krampus gives me a laugh. But the Christmas story gives me joy.
The Christmas story is a love story. It’s the story of a star, and a family, and a baby. It’s the story of a God who could not stay away. It’s the story of a God who hunkers down to our level, to see things from where we are.
This is the God who gives us life.
This is the God who gives us love.
This is the God who gives us joy.
These gifts are not the kind you want to take back to the store to exchange. The gifts of God for the people of God are forever gifts.
The Christmas story is God’s story. It’s the story of the Maker of all things who gives us gift after gift. This God says to you and to me, “I care for you. I love you. I want to be with you. Forever and always.”