daughter came and sat down by me last night.
“Dad, when you were little, did you believe in Santa
Claus?” I had to
think about it for a moment. Certainly
my parents sent us to bed Christmas Eve with the threat that Santa
could not come if we were awake! And
yet they were also conservative Christians who would be concerned at
telling a lie. I struggle
to remember. I mention it
due to some
research at Alder Hey Children’s hospital in the
, reported of all places, in the Zambian Independent.
article claimed that Santa is important in child development since
adults who encourage children to believe in Father Christmas help
children to foster moral development.
Psychiatrist Lynda Breen is quoted as saying that Santa Claus
and his ability to “know if you’ve been bad or good” helps
children to learn the difference between right and wrong.
confess I was surprised at the report appearing in an African
newspaper. If any
Christian culture is opposed to the idea of Santa Claus, I’d guess
it probably is in
. Part of our learning
curve on this programme has been seeing varied approaches to Christmas
in different parts of the world.
be honest, I’m fed up with Santa Claus – not that I or my children
believe in him, but that Hollywood seems to have destroyed any beauty
in the myth, and suppliers of cheap and tacky Christmas lights and
decorations seem to have done the rest.
And yet Christmas – next week – is still a time I look
forward to. A time when,
over the holiday period we’ll meet up with all the family, and also
with a lot of friends. A
time of laughter, of memories, and of hope.
look back at my childhood Christmases with great fondness.
There’s equal pleasure looking over the photos of my children
opening their presents when they were young.
And there is still a sense of expectation on Christmas Eve as
they look at the presents under the tree.
last few weeks the team here have been on the same kind of nostalgia
trip with Network 7 News.
Looking back over the thousands of stories that we have
covered. The interviews,
some of them tragic, many hopeful.
We’ve seen ourselves as “a voice of hope” both in times
of crisis and celebration. For
me, saying goodbye to a programme like this feels perhaps similar to a
child’s realisation that Santa no longer exists.
AWR administration has followed a road of rationalisation that
means English will be locally produced in Africa and
-- but will no longer be a global programme.
I understand the reasons for such a decision – and you can
read about them on our
website – but for me, it still hurts that a relationship that
we’ve built up over the last 7 ½ years is coming to an end.
I’ve appreciated your letters, your emails, your comments and
criticisms of the programme. And
yes, there have been critics. Some
who do not appreciate the way we’ve covered a particular story, or
perhaps the choice of a piece of music.
But those have been far outnumbered by those who tell us how a
particular story or comment has been of help in their lives.
I think of a nun working in a remote part of northern Ghana who
listens daily (if she can afford the batteries) and finds her life
blessed – sharing what she has learnt with the youth club she runs.
A man in
– with a 37 year prison sentence, turned from suicide to hope as he
tuned in. Another in
who phoned to say how our feature on family friendly churches inspired
him to try some changes in his church.
A lady in
who was moved to tears listening to an Easter comment and the
accompanying music. I want
to thank you for listening, and for you to know that while next week
may be the last edition of Network 7 News, the hope that we have
talked about goes on for ever.
I have a favourite Bible passage it is Romans chapter 8.
It starts off by telling me I am saved in Jesus (8:1).
It tells me if God is for me, no one can be against me (8:31) And
then Paul gives wonderful words of hope that I hope you
can claim with me both now and for the future:
I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor
depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.