Friday, December 6, 2013

St. Nicholas Day

The older I get the more I realize Christmas is more than just a day. Its more than a season really. Its a way of living. 

Recently, I have really begun to appreciate the Church calendar more and more, especially during the season of Advent. The four weeks leading up to Christmas Day are just as important as the holiday itself, in my opinion. 

And today is a holiday I have come to love and adore, especially knowing the history behind it.
St. Nicholas Day! 
I like that St. Nicholas was a real person, who did a lot of good and had a strong faith. Not that I don't appreciate and enjoy the concept of Santa Clause, I just think its a little over-done in our culture.

A little background on St. Nicholas and some insight into why I like observing this holiday...
St. Nicholas was born in modern day Turkey and his parents died when he was young. He spent his inheritance helping the sick and the poor and was eventually made bishop of the area he lived. He lived during the Roman emperor Diocletian, who was know for his persecution of Christians, and St. Nicholas was actually in prison for some time during his service. I was fascinated to learn that he also was present at the Council of Nicaea, and actually signed the Nicene Creed, the profession of faith by Christians. I grew up Catholic, and this was always a part of our Church service. Its fun as I grow older and start taking more of an interest in my faith because I am finding out why we do the things we do. Its important for me to know why I say or recite something because then, if I truly know and believe what it means, it comes from my heart, rather than just a mouthful of empty words. 
So more about St. Nicholas…
He loved the poor, just like Jesus did. There are so many awesome legends regarding his name. Who knows if all of these are true, but I think its more about the idea of what he did and what he stood for. He was most known for being generous in the name of Christ and for serving those who were in need.

"The most famous legend of Nicholas' service involves three poor sisters who had no dowry, which meant they were unable to marry (and in fact, would possibly be sold into slavery, as was the custom in those days). One morning, the family woke to three bags of gold mysteriously waiting of them in their home, allowing the girls to marry. Nicholas had tossed the bags of gold into their window at night, so as to remain anonymous (and the legend even says that they landed in socks that were drying by the fireplace). -source

This must be where the tradition of putting the gifts in shoes comes from? Now, I am by no means someone that has a lot of expertise on this. I am just sharing what I found after doing a little research of my own.

We always celebrated St. Nick's Day, as we called it, growing up. After doing a little research on ththis holiday, I really appreciate that it celebrates something with such a neat history. What a great holiday, focusing on generosity and Christian love as we lead up to Christmas. St. Nicholas Day follows a lot of the ideas behind Advent too, in my opinion, promoting generosity and caring for others as we anticipate Christ's birth.

I love that this holiday was a part of my childhood and I will definitely follow tradition when we have kids of our own someday.


And Advent, what a beautiful season.

Its a season of expectation and anticipation. 
Its a time to empty our lives of ourselves, in anticipation for something greater than ourselves.
Advent is about waiting, resting, and anticipating. 
As Nick and I have been praying for a long time now for a baby, I know what it feels like to wait. 
If you've ever tried to have a baby, then you know what the "2ww" is. :) There are always 2 weeks of every month that we are waiting...wishing, hoping, & longing for our dream to come true.
Waiting is hard.
But you know what is beautiful about waiting, during Advent, or in anything you are longing for?
When you are waiting, you are hopeful.
You haven't given up. 
You are expecting something.
And that's what we do during Advent. We wait. We wait with JOYFUL hope!

At our church this year, we have a little bookstore outside the sanctuary and I picked up a little Advent devotional, Preparing for Christmas. It was written by a Franciscan priest, Fr. Richard Rohr. He says that the Advent mantra is "Come Lord Jesus," which are actually the last words of the Bible (Revelation 22:20). "Come, Lord Jesus," he says, "is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope." He says that this hope "is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source of that hope is beyond ourselves." This mantra "is not a cry of desperation but an assured shout of hope." How awesome is that? 
When we wait, when we long for something, we are hopeful.
And hope is a beautiful thing.

I don't say it enough...
Thank you for reading. 
Writing really helps me empty my mind. It is such a relaxing exercise for me, and for those of you that read and give me feedback and encouragement, it does mean something to me.
Know that I appreciate you!

Have a wonderful weekend.
Go places…

1 comment:

emilyhansen said...

I love what you have to say. I'll keep praying and waiting with you friend. For Jesus and for your baby.

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