A Day of Celebration

We know December 7th as “a day that will live in Infamy!”  Do you know what is special about December 6th? In a lot of ways, it is a much bigger day for Christians.  December 6th is the feast day for a Bishop from Myra (a part of today’s nation of Turkey) in the 4th century.  That bishop’s name was  Nicholas – St. Nicholas from which we get the original story behind Santa Claus. St. Nicholas was known as a champion of the poor and especially of poor children.  He is also considered the patron saint of sailors.  The list of his accomplishments and compassion especially for those in  need is long and distinguished.  Ironically, he originally stood for the opposite of glided  consumption. St. Nicholas gave away what he had to help those in desperate need.  (The story behind the stocking has to do with him putting gold coins in the stocking for poor young women so that they would have the money to pay a dowry for marriage rather than being sold into prostitution and slavery.) Tuesday, December 6th, I was Duke University attending the Episcopal Leadership Forum (a part of my continuing education with 24 other UMC bishops under the auspices of Duke  Divinity School and The Thomas Center for Business Leadership).  In the morning devotional and prayer time, we remembered St. Nicholas and invited him once again to teach us by  example.  Our morning prayer was entitled, “Remembering our brother Bishop, Saint Nicholas of Myra.”  It is as follows:  “Almighty God, who in you love gave to your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on the land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work from 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. Amen.”