We are taking a justice look at Christmas classics. Last week we looked at 3 absolutely wonderful lessons from Miracle on 34th Street. This week we look at The Santa Clause. Have you seen the 1994 movie classic starring Tim Allen as Santa? The movie is classic Tim Allen humor but behind the humor lies three powerful justice truths worth remembering this Christmas.
1. Powerful Justice Truth # 1 – Many families struggle at Christmas
The movie opens with Scott Calvin burning a Christmas Eve turkey so he resorts to taking his son Charlie to Denny’s. “It’s always open,” Scott quips. There he sees other dad’s with their kids. Part of a ritual splitting of kids in divorced homes that takes place every Christmas. Any family law attorney will tell you that the holidays are stressful with increased visitation fights.
The movie shows this fight as Scott’s ex-wife takes him to court to suspend his visitation. Charlie is 8 and in every state that is too young to make a decision. But Charlie desperately wants to spend time with his dad. How can he understand the judge’s decision to suspend visitation rights? Behind the humor lies the real pain of millions of kids across America.
A Walgreens lesson
I was in line at Walgreens this week and a woman recognized me. She said her daughter had been in a bad place lost, pregnant, and in despair. The father’s parents had lots of money and thought she was unfit. They told her so and were going to take the child. Should she keep the child? She was young and vulnerable. She had cut off ties with her family and had no resources. But she heard of a legal ministry she could turn to for answers. So she went.
The prayers of the lawyer melted her anxious heart. The guidance to reconcile with parents, keep the child, and talk with the father made a difference. Her hope was restored. She saw a path forward. She could say what others have said, “I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are all such a blessing!”
Her life, and the life of her child, were changed because of a legal ministry. The woman wanted to thank me because she knew I had started the ministry. This Christmas her daughter and six month old healthy boy will be with her. The daughter and father are on good terms and there will be no visitation fights.
In the movie, Laura – Santa’s ex-wife – also learns the power of communicating as she throws the visitation orders into the fire.
2. Powerful Justice Truth #2 – Our justice system is broken
Santa Clause gets picked up by the police and shoved in a squad car for violating the court order Laura has now burned. They don’t listen to her, they just act.
At the station a great discussion takes place as the detective seeks to get Scott’s name. Each time he asks, “Name?” Scott responds – “Kris Kringle.” “Sinter Klaas”. “Pere Noel, Buono Natale, Pelz Nicole”. “Topo Gigio”.
The scene is really funny. The reality is not. The truth is people get picked up sometimes for no good reason. And one’s name can become a serious point of contention. Consider Mike.
A broken criminal justice system
Mike was sitting at a park in the summer with the door open cooling off after a basketball game. There were kids playing in the park. An officer pulled up and accused him of being a pedophile. Mike was shocked and tried to explain. The officer asked his name. He said Mike. The officer demanded id which showed his name was “Michael” and the officer charged him with making a false declaration, arrested him, and took him to jail. Mike was one of many stories highlighted in the Ferguson report.
As highlighted in that report there are people across America today sitting in jail for a housing code violation, parking ticket, alleged obstruction or false declaration. Often these municipal or smaller matters don’t entitle them to a free lawyer. So they sit. Often with no finding of guilt. They sit. More than 12 million cycle through local jails every year.
A broken civil justice system
In the movie, children were devastated as they watched Santa be shoved into a squad car. This devastation happens too often. The book Gospel Justice shares the story of a woman I helped named Beth. She was playing with her three kids when police came to her door and took the kids from her shoving them into a squad car. They offered no explanation just said they had a court order. That order was a fabricated order of protection alleging parental abuse for not spraying the kids with bug repellent during a West Nile virus outbreak. But with no resources what could Beth do?
Beth lost her court case because she had no attorney and as a distraught mom her ex-husband’s attorney made her lose her temper. After that experience, her meeting with a justice ministry was dramatically different. Greeted by warm volunteers and offered food and drink. Prayed over by an attorney. Given practical guidance and assistance which resulted in the return of her children. And above all she received hope. Today Beth and her children are active members of her church and sing in the gospel choir.
A broken system
The movie is named The Santa Clause because of a contract clause. In great humor in the first rendition – and even more in the second – a magnifying glass is needed to read the fine print. Sadly that is not funny for millions of Americans who get scammed by fine print every year. Where do they turn for help?
3.Powerful Justice Truth #3 – There is always hope
One of the elf characters in the movie makes a profound observation – “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.” In the movie when one believes in Santa they can see him in a magic snow globe. Belief comes first.
Charlie persuades his dad that he is Santa. This belief changes Scott’s interaction with his ex and her husband. Both of their characters also change. Belief precedes change.
Hope is found in belief.
True hope is found in the belief of a baby born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. His name is Jesus. As Matthew wrote, “In his name the nations will put their hope.” Mt. 12:21. Jesus lived a sinless life so that he could serve as the perfect atoning sacrifice for our sins. He died for us because of his great love for us. His defeat of death through his resurrection fills us with hope.
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” Rom. 8:24. Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing. The eyes of our hearts are opened as we place our hope in Christ and in the promise of his return to establish perfect justice and righteousness on the Earth.
Hard to believe? Charlie makes a great observation in the movie when dealing with his skeptical step-dad in the below image. Just because you can’t see a million dollars doesn’t mean it isn’t real. And just because you cannot see God doesn’t mean he isn’t real. If you’d like to talk about this more please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us in providing hope.
Will you help us share the hope of the gospel and the help of a lawyer with neighbors in need this year? A gift of $50 or more makes a significant difference. Give today.
The movie concludes with Santa giving the perfect gift to his ex-wife and her new husband. He gives the perfect gift to Charlie. You can be someone’s Santa. Give the perfect gift of Jesus and justice. Please share this opportunity with others.