Nicholas of Myra
1Pet. 4:7-11 NRSV The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
December 6th is the feast day of Saint Nicholas of Myra. Modern notions of Santa Claus are distantly connected with this exemplary 4th century saint of the church who is reported to have sprung from the womb declaring, “God be glorified!” Much of what is noble and edifying has been lost in the translation of this Christian saint into the Scandinavian elf who has been thoroughly commercialized by American consumerism. And yet, there are faint echoes of the Bishop of Myra’s God-glorifying life to be found even in the caricature that is our modern Santa.
Nicholas was a great defender of the weak and the poor - particularly of children. The miracles associated with him include the resurrection of three murdered children and, in a separate incident, the rescue of three young girls from being sold into prostitution. They were the daughters of a very poor man who had no dowry for them and who would be forced to hand them over to that cruel fate. For each daughter on the eve of her coming of age, Nicholas quietly tossed a bag of gold coins into the home to secure her dowry. After the first two, the father decided to lay in wait on the eve of the third daughter’s coming of age in order to see who was responsible for the appearance of the dowries. Nicholas, wanting to save the man from the awkward encounter of receiving charity, dropped the third bag through the chimney, where it was saved from dropping into the fire by falling into a stocking of the child hung near the flames to dry.
As we make our way toward Christmas it is good for us to consider the life and witness of someone like Nicholas of Myra who shows us how to glorify God. As has always been the case, the glorification of God is first and foremost a question of how we love and care for the “least of these,” in our community and in the world. So, take a card off of the Angel tree in the Narthex and help a child in Pitt County, NC or perhaps as far away as Kenya, and do it that God may be Glorified!
God, whose glory fills the skies and whose goodness cannot be contained: You invite your creatures, indeed all creation, to glorify you. Give us wisdom to live a truly God-glorifying life — that we might be living witness to your goodness and others might be blessed by you through us. We ask it in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.