Let me tell you the story of St. Nicholas. He lived about 300 years after Jesus, a long time ago. His parents were very wealthy and also very generous, they helped people who were less fortunate.
When Nicholas was about 7 years old, he was playing with some other children and he noticed a little girl named Anya who was about 3 years old crying by herself while everyone one else had fun. He had heard about the 3 kings in the Bible who brought gifts for Jesus and he went home and asked his dad to show him how to use a special carving knife. He made a small bird out of wood and the next day brought it for little Anya to play with. Even as a young boy Nicholas was very generous.
When Nicholas was a teenager, his parents died, and he received a great inheritance. When he became a young man, he became a bishop. That means he was a spiritual leader of a whole community of people. Here is what a bishop wears.
As Nicholas grew in his ministry, he became aware of the needs of his neighbors. There was a man who was very poor who had three daughters. In those days when a girl got married, the family of the daughter had to come up with some money to give to the couple who got married. This particular father was poor and couldn’t come up with this money for three daughters.
Bishop Nicholas heard about this situation and had an idea. He waited until nighttime and snuck to the man’s house. He put gold coins in a sock and through it through an open window for one of the daughters. The next night he did the same thing for the second daughter. The third night he did the same, only the father of the daughters was hiding in the bushes. His father came out and said, ‘bishop, I didn’t know it was you! Why didn’t you let yourself be known?’
Nicholas said, “It’s better to give in secret, when no one knows that it is you. It is more fun that way too!”
Christmas is about giving. It’s so fun to get gifts. But during Christmastime, remember that God gave us Jesus. ‘For God so loved the world…’
Listen to the words of John chapter one—this is the Message version:
1-2 The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
3-5 Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
God is so generous with us that he gave his Son.
Don’t you think it’s kind of funny that we get gifts on Jesus’ birthday?
It would be good for all of us to give like St. Nicholas, to see the needs around us and do what we can to meet those needs.
One writer says this, “When Christ’s Spirit fills the heart of a disciple, we joyously want to imitate our Lord’s example by giving all that we have to help others. True joy comes from giving. True meaning in life comes from helping and serving others. And the generosity of our giving reflects the maturity of our faith!”
Song of St. Nicholas
St. Nich’las was a man of faith
and truth in God whom we adore.
As bishop, he inspired his flock,
and did great things for Christ our Lord.
In secret, Nich’las helped the poor,
the children meek and all in need.
He gave to us examples for
our giving gifts as godly deeds.
St. Nich’las sang the Christmas song,
“The Manger Babe was born for you.”
Sing praise to God, oh one and all;
join Nich’las’ voice in all you do.
–from Ancient Greek “Apolytikion (Hymn) of St. Nicholas”
poetic version by T.L. Weitzel
revised Dec. 2001