Summary: It is more important to know why St. Nicholas did good deeds than to know the whole legend.
December 3, 2006 Galatians 6:2-5
Good afternoon ---- I am happy that you are here. My name is Nicholas and I am the Bishop of Myra in what is now the country of Turkey. A Bishop is really a Pastor for other Pastors. Mt. Olive Church has a Bishop named John and he lives in Buffalo, NY.
Turkey is very far from here. It takes all day to get there by airplane and many days to get there by boat. Because of the oceans, it is impossible to drive to Turkey.
It is hard for me to speak about myself because I like to do things for people quietly without drawing attention to myself.
As a follower of Jesus, my favorite subject to talk about is Jesus. If I speak of others I always try to say good things because I do not like to listen to or repeat bad things about other people. That is called gossip and it is wrong.
There was once a big meeting at a town called Nicea. The reason for the meeting was to talk about Jesus and to make sure that we all correctly understood that Jesus was the Son of God and that he came from God the Father and He is both true God and true man. My friend Athanasius was at this meeting and he helped to record the truth that we all believe and recite in what we call the Nicene creed. I was honored to speak for Jesus at this important meeting..
The emperor in Rome did not like Christians and he put me in jail for my beliefs.
What an opportunity this gave me to tell others about how Jesus died on the cross to pay for all of our sins! St. Paul and his friend Silas were also put in jail for their beliefs and taught about Jesus in prison. In a little bit I will give you some Gold coins. But knowing and trusting Jesus is far more important than all of the Gold in the world.
When my mother and father died they left me with a lot of money. They always taught me to share because Jesus said that it is better to give gifts than to receive gifts. I had all that I needed so I looked for opportunities to share rather than to live like rich people..
The Bible tells us to carry each other’s burdens but that each one should carry his own load. Do you know the difference between a burden and a load? Let me give you an example of how I was able to help one family.
A man had three daughters who could not be married because he was poor. At that time and place a father had to pay a man to marry his daughter. Again at that time if a poor woman was not able to marry, she would most likely be forced into a life that would not please Jesus. I was able to help this family. Secretly, in the middle of the night, I threw some Gold coins through an open window. Some of the coins landed in stockings hung by the fireplace. I did this for each of the daughters. By giving him just a little help, I was able to relieve the man’s burden. All three girls were able to get married. Just a little bit of help changed their lives. This man worked hard to support his family -- he carried his load --- he just needed a little help to get over a difficult time in his life. This is how the custom of hanging stockings by the fireplace was started. This is also how the story of my life has become legend. Some of the things I did got exaggerated -- I even got credit for some good things that others did.
Enough talk about me -- I think it is more important to know why I try to help the poor.
I do it in the name of Jesus. I do it because I am thankful for Jesus dying on the cross for my sins. I do it to help people overcome burdens and to help change their lives for the better.
Well line up and I will give you some Gold coins and then you can get your shoes -- there could be a surprise in them. If you have questions we can talk while you make your gingerbread houses.