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They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

~ Francis Pharcellus Church[1]

Virginia O’Hanlon was an eight-year-old girl who wrote to her local newspaper to ask if Santa Claus really existed or not. The New York Sun printed the infamous response called “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus.”

  • Childlike faith looks for Truth.

The Sun had built its reputation as representative of truth. Modern media bias no longer concerns itself with this tenet. But in 1897, the editors of The Sun did.

That’s why the little girl had written to newspaper in the first place. Her father had told her if she read it in The Sun it had to be true.

  • Skeptics downplay a child’s faith.

The editorial response to Virginia’s letter wasn’t in a prime location that drew a reader’s attention to it. It was in a nondescript place, beneath a picture of a girl on a chainless bicycle.

It’s not that the newspaper didn’t want to take the assignment seriously. It was for that very reason that Church answered her query. But adults read the paper. The copywriters knew this, and his response wasn’t priority news.

  • Childlike faith has power.

What happened next though was unexpected. It went viral. People so loved Church’s answer that it became the most reprinted editorial ever written.

  • Childlike faith leaves a legacy.

The newspaper reprinted the popular piece every year at Christmas. Books and shows followed.

The 1989 movie Prancer employed a twist on the original story by portraying how a young girl nursed a reindeer back to health because she thought it was one that pulled Santa’s sleigh. Her perseverance motivated the local editor in the production to write his own editorial: “Yes, Santa, There Still Are Virginias.”

  • Christians should understand childlike faith.

Francis Church died childless. He had witnessed the horrors of the Civil War as the war correspondent for The New York Times. He had every reason to be skeptical. Yet, he encouraged one little girl’s faith.

Why?

He had learned about a Man who had done the same thing years before. Church was the son of a Baptist minister. His answer stirred memories of a story about Jesus:

Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them. “I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

~ Matthew 18:2-4, HCSB

  • Childlike faith is necessary to believe in the True Christmas story.

That’s how a man with no kids can talk about childlike faith. Believing in Jesus. Yes, the One born to a virgin that first Christmas. The One who evokes childlike wonder and demands childlike faith. The greatest Giver and the greatest Gift ever known.

We see Truth in the Son.

In matters of faith, are you a Virginia?


[1] Francis Pharcellus Church, “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus,” The Sun (NY: The New York Sun, September 21, 1897).