December 6, 2017
Prayer by Mrs. Erin Paul ’92, Theology Department
Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas! Happy Day! For those of you who have studied Church History with me, you know I like a good drama. Church History is full of it! And St. Nicholas doesn’t disappoint!
We all might have heard of the good things St. Nicholas did during his lifetime…
His story goes a bit like this…
His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
I lost you somewhere around, “he dedicated his life…blah blah blah.” Right?
So here’s the real scoop, that makes me want to hang out with St. Nicholas in heaven. Before he was a saint, he was a bishop – bishop of Myra in Turkey.
Constantine you may recall called a little council together to solve some issues in the Church. Over 300 bishops convened in a city called Nicea to talk it out. A gentleman named Arius, was talking about Jesus not being fully divine. Wait what??? Yep. He was, how should we say today? Arius was roasting my friend Jesus!
NOOOO you say. Mmmhmm.
So, the bishops, being polite and holy, let Arius talk. And talk, and talk. Until Nicholas just couldn’t take it anymore. The story goes, that Nicholas got up, walked across the room and slapped Arius across the face. Seriously. No one knew what to do. Bishops don’t hit people. Nicholas was thrown in jail – and stripped of his title. Oh no you say – not his title! Yes, his title. Whoa.
So now, regular guy Nicholas is in jail, kinda bummed he let his anger get the better of him, when who should appear? But Mary and Jesus – and no reindeer. Sorry, that was a stretch…
Ok, really. Mary and Jesus appear in a vision to Nicholas in prison. They dress him in his bishop clothes, and give him some scripture to read, while he’s in a timeout. Well. When the other bishops came the next morning – they were shocked to see him dressed and reading. He apologized and so happy ending – he got his title back! Whew, thank goodness!
So what does this have to do with St. Nicholas Day? We all think of St. Nicholas as Santa Claus – that jolly guy who helps people, gives gifts to children, and reminds us that there is good in the world.
But Nicholas was a person. A person who could be frustrated. I’ve found myself frustrated a lot recently. There have been plenty of occasions that I have wanted to walk across a room, or into my TV, and slap someone. St. Nicholas reminds me that I’m human. But the greatest part of the story is the character with few lines. My friend Jesus. He makes a small appearance, reminds me that even when I’ve been a bit out of control, I should sit down and maybe read some scripture. Probably say “I’m sorry.”
Let us pray,
Heavenly Father, we await your birth during this Advent. May our focus be on you and your kingdom. But if we become distracted along the way and maybe slap someone, thank you for the gift of St. Nicholas who reminds us to sit down, read Scripture and maybe say I’m sorry. Because our focus should be on you, whom we should love above all things. Amen. Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Pray for us.