Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
In 1823 this popular piece was written by Clement Clarke Moore and St. Nicholas began his transformation into the Santa Claus we know today. But there is so much more about St. Nicholas, some fact, some legend, but all true about a kindly bishop who served his people 1700 years ago. And on a day when Bishop Ahrens is visiting us, it is good to remember what Bishops do and in the heart of Advent to remember one whose life was in service to the Christ child.
We know about Nicholas...
Born in Patara (in Turkey) mid to late 3rd Century Lost both parents when he was young (teenager?); had much wealth but gave it away
As a layperson, was elected bishop of Myra (now Demre), a sea port along the Mediterranean Sea.
Then there were the stories told about him…
Saving three condemned innocents (Righter of Wrongs) – the oldest of the stories only a century or so after Nicholas
Three Impoverished Maidens (The Story of The Dowries) -freed from slavery/prostitution
The Evil Butcher (or Evil Innkeeper) -protector of children
Famine Relief (The Miracle Of The Grain) -wonder worker (also Friend of Sailors)
Took part in the famous council of Nicaea (325)
What it means for us today…
He came as a witness to the light - John the Baptist
To witness is to shine with the light of Christ - Nicholas
Nicholas became so popular because he was a faithful follower of Jesus, for his life clearly reflected the way each one of us is called to show God's love to others, especially those in need. He bore witness to the light and to love through his service, justice and work (to prisoners, sailors and children) kindness done often in secret, seeking nothing in return.
Almighty God, who in your love gave to your servant Bp. 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.
Learn more here.