Tonight is the eve of the Celebration of St Nicholas of Myra. He is who we attribute “Santa Claus” to, which is a shortening of his name.
He lived in the 4th Century, and was a member of the 1st Eccumenical council, which would give us the Nicene Creed, which is the single most defining statement of faith that the Christian faith has.
One of the most enduring stories of Nicholas is as a Bishop, he would leave fruit and Gold on the door steps of the poor. This is where we get the traditions of both on St Nicholas day, leaving presents in our children’s shoes, and later, the tradition of Santa Claus (from the German for St Nicholas, “SinterKlaus”) bringing presents each Christmas.
A lesser known, and more important tale of St Nick, has to do with the Council of Nicea. IN 325 Ad, Christianity , only recently allowed to be practiced openly, was at a Crossroads. There was great debate on the Nature of Christ. Arius, a bishop of Alexandria, who held that while Christ was the Son of God.. he was Unique from the Father…and thus.. lesser then God.
This was contrary to the concept held by the church (and Scripture), which held that the Father Son and Spirit were all equal parts of the God head, the Trinity. Anyhow, during the debate… St Nicholas got so angry at Arius that he reached over and struck him. He would be jailed for a period of a month, only to be exhonerated when the council ruled against the Arian Heresy.
Arius would be deposed, and the Nicene Creed was professed by all for the very first time. In many ways…we owe our Church as it is in both East and West to Nicholas. If only today’s bishops had his courage.
St Nicholas is a Patron of Eastern Christians, Russia, Children. St Nicholas of Myra, pray for us (and leave me some good stuff in my shoes)