We are about a week into Advent and we come to the Feast Day of Nicholas. He looks nothing like the guy who rings bells at the Salvation Army, or has children sitting in his lap at the department stores, but he may have more of the character of what this season is all about.
It would do us all good to take a look at this saint as we prepare for the birth of the Christ Child. It may change the priorities we have this season.
From Common Prayer:
Nicholas of Myra (Fourth Century)
The original “Old St. Nick” who inspired the tradition of Santa Claus, Nicholas was bishop of Myra in fourth-century Turkey. Little is known about his life except that he entrusted himself to Jesus at an early age and, when his parents died, gave all of their possessions to the poor. While serving as bishop, Nicholas learned of three girls who were going to be sold into slavery by their father. Moved to use the church’s wealth to ransom the lives of these little ones, he tossed three bags of gold through the family’s window. We recall this ancient Christmas gift, even as we remember that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year in the global sex trade today.
From the Mission of St. Clare:
The story of St. Nicholas offers a possible way of dealing with the “Santa Claus” problem, to parents who do not want to lie to their children, even in fun, but do not want to say simply: “Bah, humbug! There is no such thing as Santa. Forget about him.” READ MORE
Almighty God, who in your love gave to your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.