Summary: This is a sermon for all of the Saints, young and older, about a man who knew the savior and demonstrated this in his life.
Text Matthew 6:2-4
December 4, 2005
Greetings to all of the Saints, young and older, gathered here for our annual Christmas Family Event. I am here to tell you a little bit about the life of Saint Nicholas who lived many years ago. First, from what I can determine, he was a humble man and he would have only worn these clothes because his position as a Bishop required him to. He was Bishop in the city of Myra in what is now the country of Turkey. Turkey is located near Iraq. The robes, staff and hat are symbols of his position and I am wearing them today to give you an idea about how he appeared. (The beard is real.) A Bishop is actually a Pastor, like our Pastor, but he is responsible for many churches. He is in many ways a Pastor FOR the Pastors. Although the symbols of the office look impressive, St. Nicholas would have been very humble in this role. He would have acted like Jesus.
Did you notice that I called you Saints? That is because all of us who trust in Jesus are saints. We are saints because we have what is called “a saving relationship with Jesus” even though our behavior is not always “saint like.” In fact sometimes we don’t behave well but Jesus loves and forgives us and we try to act better because He loves us no matter what we have done.
Now I am going to read a few words that Jesus spoke that affected St. Nicholas greatly.
(Note: Paraphrase slightly but emphasize anonymous nature of giving)
2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Saint Nicholas did many, many good deeds. He did them quietly. He did them because of the love of Jesus in his heart ----- he was able to see the face of Jesus in the people who needed help. St Nicholas acted as Jesus would have acted.
Nicholas was given a great deal of money when his parents died young. He could have lived a very extravagant life. He could have spent large amounts of money on himself buying eveything that he saw. He realized that the money actually belonged to God. Nicholas realized that he should take only what he NEEDED for himself and could use the rest of the money to glorify God. He chose to glorify God by helping others rather than to waste the money on a fancy life for himself.
One of the most famous stories about Nicholas demonstrates his understanding of Jesus’ teaching about helping others.
A poor 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 whould not please Jesus. Nicholas was able to help this family. He secretly, in the middle of the night, threw some Gold coins through an open window. Some of the coins landed in stockings hung by the fireplace. He did this for each of the daughters. And now children still hang stockings by the fireplace hoping for gifts. There are many more stories about Nicholas and his good deeds.
Nicholas always stood up for Jesus so that the truth was always preached. He wanted people to know that Jesus came from the Father, and that He came to save us, and that no matter what some might say, Jesus is the only person that can save us and lead us to His Father in heaven.
Jesus is the only person who ever lived that never did anything wrong. Even Nicholas, when he did something wrong, got on his knees and asked Jesus to forgive him (1 John 1:9) Nicholas turned towards Jesus when he was bad. He knew that Jesus loved him and would forgive him. We, too, must always know to turn to Jesus when we are bad and to never turn from him.
To know Jesus we must read the Bible, go to church, and go to Sunday School all of our lives. We never graduate from Sunday school.
Now I have a gift for you and then you can get your shoes from the greeting area – there could be a surprise in them!