Dear brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Around the year 270 AD, a man was born to a wealthy family who would later become known as Saint Nicholas. Legend has it that when Nicholas was a young man, he learned about three sisters who would soon be penniless because they lacked a dowry for marriage. He collected his inheritance and gave each sister a bag full of gold pieces (popularised today by chocolate coins in gold wrapping) because he wanted to live out the teachings of Jesus about helping those in need. Nicholas spent the remainder of his money on helping the underprivileged and taking care of others over the years. Following the decades, Nicholas received recognition for his extravagant giving and served as an inspiration to the figure who goes by the name of Father Christmas. Even though the glamour and commercials of the season may overshadow our festivities, Nicholas is associated with the gift-giving custom. And his love for Jesus was the foundation of his giving. Nicholas understood that Christ had shown the greatest generosity by bringing the greatest gift of all: God. Jesus is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). And He brought us the gift of life. In a world of death, He “save[s] his people from their sins” (Matthew 1. 21) The fruit of selfless giving is seen when we believe in Jesus. As God provides for us, we gladly tend to the needs of others and make provisions for them. This is the story of Saint Nicholas, but it is also the story of God. I take the legend of Saint Nicholas as a powerful reminder of God being the centre of our focus during Advent. As we approach the day, we celebrate the incarnation of God with the exchanging of gifts.
Rev’d Pete Farquhar