Over the past few months, we at Grace been learning about the saints, and celebrating their faith stories by having mini-feasts in the foyer.
This morning, we are celebrating St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus.
Nicholas was born in 3rd century to rich parents in what is now Turkey. However, they died when he was as young boy and was raised by his uncle, a bishop.
His parents had left him an inheritance, and one of the first things that he did was promptly give it all away to the poor, the sick, and children in need.
He is remembered for quite a few acts of generosity, many of those giving little heed to his own life and safety. There’s a story of him standing between a slave owner and his property. There’s another one of him standing between an executioner and his victim. And one of him un-kidnapping a boy.
But the one is most remembered for is his rescuing of three girls from slavery. Back in those days, families had to provide dowries for their daughters when they got married. The bigger the dowry, the higher up the socio-economic status they could marry. The smaller the dowry, the lower they could marry. No dowry meant no marriage, and were thus were usually condemned to live their lives as sex workers or slaves.
One poor father had three daughters, and was planning on selling them into slavery. One night, Nicholas went to their house and threw three bags of gold in through the window so that the girls wouldn’t have to be sold. The story goes that the three bags of gold ended up in socks that were drying by the fire, and that is why we, still to this day, hang our stockings by the chimney and put presents in them.
Although giving away our parent’s inheritance to strangers so they don’t have to live lives of destitution and slavery, is certainly a little more saint like than giving iPads and Xbox’s to our children.
And so, after our worship, enjoy your coffee and paperpnet, peppernuts, or however you say that word… enjoy it and celebrate the generosity of St. Nicholas.
** A big thanks to Shane Claiborne and Pete Enns and Wikipedia for the info and blatant plagiarism.**