Bishop of Myra
Very little is known about the life of Nicholas, except that he suffered torture and imprisonment during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian. It is possible that he was one of the bishops attending the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325. He was honored as a saint in Constantinople in the sixth century by the Emperor Justinian. His veneration became immensely popular in the West after the supposed removal of his body to Bari, Italy, in the late eleventh century. In England almost 400 churches were dedicated to him.
Nicholas is famed as the traditional patron of seafarers and sailors, and, more especially, of children. As a bearer of gift to children, his name was brought to America by the Dutch colonists in New York, from whom he is popularly known as Santa Claus.
So Santa Claus, Nicholas of Myra, was a real person! I think we all probably knew that and with the Christmas season coming, I thought it was appropriate to visit this Saint. There is not a lot of information available about him but what we do know is that he was a giver; a giver of gifts to children, relief to the poor and help to those in doubt and grief. When I was 6, my brother told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus and I was heartbroken! I went to my mother in tears and she told me that Santa Claus does exist, that he is the spirit of giving that lives in everyone’s heart. So as I was reading about Nicholas, I was reminded of that and I was thinking about giving. When we hear someone say “giving”, we usually think of material things… gifts or money. But there are so many other ways to give! Sitting with someone who normally sits alone is a gift. Talking to someone you don’t know well and getting to know them and allowing them to know you is a gift. Listening to a dissenting opinion, one different from your own, and being respectful of that person and their thoughts is a gift. Accepting what someone is offering to you is a gift. We have so many opportunities each and every day to embody the spirit of giving and it doesn’t have to cost us anything! All it requires is a moment of our time and attention, a moment of our understanding and consideration, a moment of random kindness. I hope that as we draw near to the celebration of the birth of our Savior, we can all remember to carry Saint Nicholas with us in our hearts and to become the embodiment of his spirit of giving…. Then I hope we can continue that throughout the year!
Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both 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, forever and ever. Amen
Psalm 145:8-13 Proverbs 19:17,20-23 1 John 4:7-14