Sunday, December 23, 2007

St. Nicholas of Myra

I recently have been mulling over how Santa Claus fits into Christmas. In every way the American version of Santa seems like a competing mythology with the birth of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, after a little bit of research I discovered that Saint Nicholas of the early church is a good character to learn about, and one that "Santa Claus" can point to. He appeared as passionate about sharing the benevolence of Christ as he was about defending the truth of Christ.

This passion was expressed in how he saw that the needy in his community were cared for; however, it was also expressed in how he passionately contended for the truth. One legend holds that when Saint Nicholas was present at the council of Nicaea in in A.D. 325, he was so angered by the heresies of Arius that he dropped him with one punch in the council chambers. I picture this being not greatly dissimilar from the following video:

I'm not sure about "Santa Claus" as yet, but if Saint Nicholas had some "hockey" in him, I think I'm going to like him a lot. In fact, this linked site (www.stnicholascenter.org) is appearing very helpful in discovering this historical saint of the ancient church whereby some Christian substance can be reclaimed for the holiday, overcoming the blight of the present American icon of commercialism in the red suit. For now, it is enough that Santa Claus images can serve as a teaching tool for me to share about the real St. Nicholas - a life sold out to Christ whose legacy lives on.

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