One of the warmest Christmas memories that I have was the year that I was Santa Claus. I was a young, substitute teacher with a new family just starting out in life. I was called in to work at the local grade school on the last day before the Christmas holidays. Near the end of the day I was summoned to the principal's office and asked to be the Santa who visited all the classrooms. Being a great lover of both children and Christmas I agreed.
I can still remember going from classroom to classroom doing my best to sound both old and jolly at the same time. I was about 50 pounds heavier then so I had the round little belly part down fine. My beard, however, was another matter as it kept sliding halfway down my face. I think that more than a few of the kids recognized me, but it didn't matter. They still rejoiced in seeing Santa. They still laughed and delighted in their small gifts and candy canes. They still felt joyous and happy. They still knew that they were loved and that was all that mattered to them.
If there is one thing that I could give to each of you at Christmas time and every day of the year, it would be that knowledge that you are loved. You are loved and watched over by a greater love than you could ever imagine. You are loved by God who made you, who delights in you, and who wants you to be happy. In all the difficulties, problems, and heartaches this world brings, you are loved. In all the obstacles you must overcome, challenges you must face, and pain you must go through, you are loved. In all the mistakes you make, times you stumble, and wrong paths you take, you are loved. You are loved every second of everyday of your life with a glorious love that will never end.
Know that you are loved. Know that God loves you always. Rejoice in this love with the joyous heart of a child. And then, like a jolly laughing Santa, go out and share it with the world.