Toward the end of the third century, a boy was born to wealthy Christian merchants in a port town in southern Turkey. When a plague killed the parents, he was moved into the Church’s care.
Living on an ample inheritance, he was moved by those who came to the church with various needs. He began to help, especially the mariners and children.
Once, in the middle of a famine, he asked a captain for extra grain.
The city survived, thanks to the extra grain. The captain, worried about showing up short, opened the holds to find an overflowing load.
A man, single, with three daughters, could not afford a dowery for even one, so he faced selling all three into slavery. One night, as they came of age, a bag of gold dropped through the chimney. The next night, another. The third, the man stayed up, and after the bag of gold dropped, he went to see the source.
On his roof was Nicholas, a local spiritual leader, not yet a priest or the Bishop of Myrna, and the man dropped to his knees to thank this benefactor.
“Do not thank me,” said Nicholas. “Thank God.”
May we, in this season of Black Friday and Christmas specials, remember this message from St. Nicholas: Christmas giving is an opportunity to meet the needs of those we love and encounter. Rather than debt-laden toy binges, it’s about meeting the needs of those we love, as well as those who come to us for help.
May we also remember that there is a Santa Claus: his name was Saint Nicholas, and his spirit lives on; may we all be receptive to the presence and generosity of his spirit.
Help celebrate that spirit on Dec. 8 at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church.
They will host a community dinner featuring a visit from Saint Nicholas and a photo elf beginning at 5:30 p.m. Turkey, potatoes, and dressing will be provided. Doors are open to all, and taking a dish to share is encouraged.
Russell Richardson, MM, MFA, St. Nick’s (Tahoe City) tuba player and publicist, visit www.stnicksepiscopal.org. St. Nicholas Episcopal Church and is free and open to all. Location, 855 West Lake Blvd., Tahoe City.