For today’s commemoration, we read about the life of Nicholas in an excerpt from Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend.
Nicholas’s generosity earned him a place in history and still inspires people to give gifts to demonstrate God’s love. Through these gifts, we can tell people about the true Christmas gift—God’s Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Nicholas . . . lived in the fourth century. He was Bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia, Asia Minor (what is modern-day Turkey). The region is situated on the Mediterranean Sea across from Greece.
The people of Myra had already heard the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before Nicholas came to serve them. The Apostle Paul had traveled there on his mission journey. This visit is recorded in Acts 27:5–6.
As a Christian, Nicholas suffered persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian and was imprisoned until Constantine came into power and showed tolerance to Christians.
Tales of Nicholas’s generosity were widespread, and he became patron saint of Russia. In Europe, he was known as Father Christmas, and in America, Santa Claus. Legends about his home at the North Pole, flying reindeer, and distributing gifts all over the world on Christmas Eve were created to enhance his story, but his generosity is based in historical fact. . . .
Nicholas’s feast day (the day he died) is December 6th. Many families observe St. Nicholas Day by having the children in the home place their shoes by the door when they go to bed the night before. When they awaken on the morning of December 6, their shoes are filled with bags of gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins that were secretly placed there during the night.
The significance of Nicholas for us today is that his response to God’s great love for us in Jesus was to care for other people. His kindness and care for children are modeled every time we give a gift out of love.
Lord, from Your bounty You gave us Your own dear Son. . . . We give You thanks and praise. Amen.
Devotional reading and prayer are from Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend, pages 20, 28–29. Text © 2003 Julie Stiegemeyer. Published by Concordia Publishing House.