St. Nicholas – December 4, 2014
WISE WORDS – The prophetic leaders and the community as a whole engage in prayer, not as a matter of formal ritual, but as a matter of prophetic consciousness: prayer is the place above all where empowerment by the Holy Spirit can happen.
— Luke Timothy Johnson, from his book Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church
SPIRITUAL HERO – This week we celebrate the life and witness of St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra. His transformation for early church bishop to jolly old elf is one that would try even the most creative minds. Very little is known about the real Nicholas. He is believed to have been born on March 15, 270, and died on December 6, 343. Known as Nicholas of Myra and Nicholas the Wonderworker, he suffered torture and imprisonment during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian. It is possible that he was one of the bishops attending the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325. This meeting helped formalize church doctrines and theology that is still followed throughout the world. One legend says Nicholas was known for secretly handing out gifts, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him. Who knows if this is true? In the sixth century, emperor Justinian honored Nicholas as a saint in Constantinople. His veneration became immensely popular in the West after the supposed removal of his body to Bari, Italy, in the late eleventh century. In England almost 400 churches were dedicated to him. Nicholas is famed as the traditional patron of seafarers and sailors, and, more especially, of children. As a bearer of gifts to children, his name was brought to America by the Dutch colonists in New York. They knew him as Santa Claus. The rest, as they say, is history.
Here is a prayer for St. Nicholas: Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both 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,
forever and ever. Amen.