Proverbs 19:17, 20-23
A reading from Proverbs.
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full. Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom for the future. The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that f+ be established. What is desirable in a person is loyalty, and it is better to be poor than a liar. The fear of the Lord is life indeed; filled with it one rests secure and suffers no harm.
Word of God, Word of Life. Thanks be to God.
The holy gospel according to Mark, the 10th chapter.
Glory to you, O Lord.
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Creator, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
During our Advent Wednesday worship times this year, we are going to celebrate the saints of Advent. Saints are remembered on the day of their death and Saint Nicholas died on December 6, in the year 343. So, it seems appropriate today, to talk about St. Nicholas.
The real Saint Nicholas lived a long time ago in a place called Asia Minor. It is now the country of Turkey.
Nicholas' parents died when he was just a teenager. His parents left him a lot of money which made him a rich young man. He went to live with his uncle who was a priest.
Nicholas heard about a man who had lost all his money. He had three daughters who were old enough to get married. But in those days young women had to have money in order to get married. This money was a "dowry" and it was used to help the new family get started. If you didn't have dowry money, you didn't get married.
This family was so poor they had nothing left to eat. The daughters were going to be sold as slaves because they couldn't live at home any longer. They were very sad. They wouldn't be able to have families of their own. And they would have to be slaves—no longer able to decide where they would live or what they would do.
The night before the oldest daughter was to be sold, she washed her stockings and put them in front of the fire to dry. Then all of them went to sleep—the father and the three daughters.
In the morning the daughter saw a lump in her stocking. Reaching in, she found a small, heavy bag. It had gold inside! Enough to provide food for the family and money for her dowry. Oh, how happy they were!
The next morning, another bag with gold was found. Imagine! Two of the daughters would now be saved. Such joy!
And the next night, the father planned to stay awake to find out who was helping his daughters. He dozed off, but heard a small "clink" as another bag landed in the room. Quickly he jumped up and ran out the door. Who did he catch ducking around the corner?
Nicholas, the young man who lived with his uncle. "Nicholas, it is you! Thank you for helping us—I hardly know what to say!" Nicholas said, "Please, do not thank me—thank God that your prayers have been answered. Do not tell others about me."
Nicholas continued helping people. He always tried to help secretly. He didn't want any attention or thanks. Years passed and he was chosen to be a bishop. Bishops are pastors who look after their people as shepherds look after their sheep. And that is what Nicholas did. When there wasn't any food, he found wheat; so no one went hungry. He always helped people in trouble. All his life Nicholas showed people how to love God and care for each other.
Several stories are about Nicholas and the sea. When he was young, he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. As he was returning by sea, a storm came up and threatened the ship. Nicholas prayed and the storm calmed down. So Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and travelers.
When Nicholas was a bishop, there was a bad emperor who put all the deacons, pastors and bishops in prison. There were so many of them that there wasn’t any room for the criminals, so he had to let them go free.
Everyone loved Nicholas. After he died, they told stories of the good and kind things Nicholas had done. Sailors took these stories about Nicholas everywhere they went. Some of the stories were about his special care for children—helping and protecting them when danger threatened. And so more and more people learned about good, kind Nicholas. They wanted to be like him. He is an example of how we should live. And that is why he became a saint. We think of him every December 6th.
To this day people say that St. Nicholas is the special friend of children.
—Carol Myers, St. Nicholas Center Copyright © 2010 www.stnicholascenter.org
The story of the real St. Nicholas is a story about giving, about helping the poor, especially children. There are many legends about him, but the real Nicholas was a bishop who became a saint. And saints are people who point us to Jesus. Nicholas did everything he did because of the love of Jesus. He lived his life like the proverb says, when you are kind to the poor, you lend to the Lord, and you will be repaid in full.
In these days of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the God who came to us as a little child, we remember the children around us who are in need. We remember how much Jesus loves children. And no matter how old we are, we are God’s own children. Jesus welcomes us and takes us in his arms and blesses us. Amen.