Amongst the legends and lore of yuletide, you can find the character of Krampus. As with most legends, there are differing elements of the actions and origins of this character, but essentially, Krampus is the frightening opposite of Santa and St. Nick, punishing the children on the naughty list by bringing coal, spankings and possibly even eating them.

So what does evil Santa have to do with Advent? We, unfortunately, sometimes we cast God as a fickle Santa/Krampus mash-up, keeping a list of rights and wrongs and waiting for the time to strike when we slide onto the naughty list. Because of this view, we live more in fear-based faith than one predicated on love. Our actions are motivated more from avoiding punishment than rooted in the sharing of God’s love for us. When we do act out of love, we hope and pray God sees it and that it can balance out the checkbook, so to speak. 

But this is not the freedom that was promised with the coming of the Christ. The messiah was to set us free from this yoke of slavery to sin, to the constant measuring and trying to stuff more good deeds into the ledger than bad. God’s love for us, however, isn’t transactional and isn’t fickle. Scripture tells us that God loved us first, even while we were still sinners. Scripture tells us that it isn’t for our deeds that God loves us, that God is love.

We needn’t fear when it comes to God. God doesn’t Krampus. God’s love is an instrument of freedom, driving out fear. In this perfected love, we are set free to love ourselves, our neighbors and even those we call enemies with the same radical grace God gave to us with the gift of the Christ.

VERSE: 1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Prayer: O God of perfect love - keep us from retreating into fear. Move us once again from hoping you love us to knowing you love us. Stamp out the spirit of fear that keeps us enslaved and give us the freedom that comes with your perfect love.