Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent Reading Day 22 and The Story Behind St. Nicholas

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38 -- Mary and the Angel

Symbol: The angel Gabriel

The Story Behind St. Nicholas

Santa Clause is the North American version of Saint Nicholas, a 4th century bishop who lived in Turkey. Oral tradition holds that St. Nicholas was revered for his generous, anonymous giving to the poor. The most well known account is of Nicholas' midnight ascent upon the roof of a poor family who was soon to have to sell the three daughters into slavery because there was no money for their dowry. Nicholas secretly dropped gold coins down the chimney, which landed in the girls' stockings, which were hanging by the fire to dry. This money ransomed the girls from slavery and possible death.

St. Nicholas is a "type" of Christ and portrays Jesus in 3 ways:
1. He gave to those who were undeserving
2. He gave to those who could not repay
3. His gift rescued them from slavery and death. I've been wondering what "to do" with the whole Santa thing this year. It's never been that much of an issue before. Over the past couple of years, Burrito would see a picture of Santa in the stores and call him Noah from the Bible. John and I would just crack up over that one! But now that Burrito is in school, he's been asking a lot of questions about if Santa is real and is quite fascinated with the story of him coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve to deliver presents. Part of me likes the idea of believing in Santa because it's fun and it's what I believed as a child, with the understanding of course, that Christ is the most important thing about Christmas and it is His birth that is the greatest gift.
I think we've done a good job of emphasizing that with our boys this year. At a party last night, a friend asked Burrito if he was excited that Christmas is almost here and of course, he replied yes. When asked why he was excited about Christmas, John and I held our breath in anticipation of his reply. We were so proud when he said, "Because we celebrate Jesus' birthday!" Hooray, *high five*! Maybe he is listening to all of these Advent readings! Thank you Lord for teaching his heart the Truth.
So, all that to say, obviously the historical St. Nicholas is not a bad thing, but unfortunately culture has skewed Santa into a symbol of consumerism and greed, which are not values I want to teach my boys. Instead, I am trying to instill in them the attitude that it really is better to give than to receive. Lord help me to believe this and be an example of this to my boys, to my family and to others.

No comments: