Yesterday's celebration was the wonderful St Nicholas, in many respects a key foundation for 'Father Christmas' or “Santa Claus”. Before I share about my reflection on St Nicholas’ day let’s see little bit history about St Nicholas.
Nicholas was a fourth-century bishop of Myra in Asia Minor (Southern Turkey), but very little is known about the historical figure behind the legends. His reputation as a worker of wonders was enhanced by the ninth century and is now better known through these stories than otherwise: St Nicholas' love and care for children, how he fed the hungry, healed the sick and cared for the oppressed. He saved three girls from a life of prostitution by providing them with dowries and so developed the tradition of bearing gifts to children on his feast day – a practice appropriated by later Christmas celebrations. The manner of Nicholas’ death is not known but is not thought to have been martyrdom.
Now we are in Christmas season where we are thinking of lots of present to buy and to give too, but think of poor old Nicholas – I’m sure he would be appalled at what he has become – this caricature of a figure bringing presents – and often to those who have too much anyway. And the sickening commercialisation of the time – used to sell things. Instead, he was a man who gave quietly to the poor and destitute, to the struggling and the needy. What made me think of him the story I have heard is simply the arrival of parcels at the door of a house with no preliminaries and no expectations simply the meeting of a need.
So, in this Christmas lets learn from St Nicholas how to help, and who to give present to feel the real joy of Christmas.
Let’s finish with the special prayer for St Nicholas,
Almighty Father, lover of souls,
who chose your servant Nicholas
to be a bishop in the Church,
that he might give freely out of the treasures of your grace:
make us mindful of the needs of others
and, as we have received, so teach us also to give.
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Have a blessed day.
Rev Kathreen Shahbaz