December 4, 2019
Advent St. Nicholas Reflection, Katie LeClair
Has your faith in Jesus ever compelled you to climb the roof of a neighbor in need?
Well, a version of the story – a legend, told about Bishop Saint Nicholas, way back in the third century went something along those lines. Nicholas was born to very wealthy parents in what is now the country of Turkey. His parents died when Nicholas was a young man, leaving him a huge inheritance, and he felt called by God to sell everything he had and give it away.
There are lots of legends. Saint Nicholas on a boat – saving seafarers in peril. There’s also a really weird story about kids in a vat of pickling juice that I’ll let you investigate on your own. It may or may not engender a spirit of Christmas in you. Probably not.
But one legend centers around a poor dad with three young daughters who had nothing to offer a prospective husband and the dad was contemplating selling his daughters into slavery.
Saint Nicholas hears about this and tosses a bag of gold coins in to the window of the man’s house, without being seen. He slinks off in secret. Soon, Nicholas returned and did the same thing for a second time for the second daughter. He threw a bag of gold coins through the window and the father was able to use the money to make the dowry that two of his daughters needed to be married.
Now, there were three daughters, and the father wondered if the secret donor would show up again. He was determined to find out who it was, so on the third night, he shut that window, thinking he could catch him. Here comes Saint Nicholas, and he finds the window closed. So, he climbed up on the roof with his final bag of coins.
Now, inside the house, there was the third daughter. She had given up. She resigned to her fate. This was the last night in her house, she thought. Tomorrow, my father will have to sell me into slavery, as I have no money to start a family. So, she washed her clothing and had it drying on the mantle of the fireplace. Up on the roof, the legend says, Saint Nicholas stood. And he dropped his last bag of gold down the chimney, where it happened to land in the stocking of the young lady. She was saved. By a kind and wise gift giver.
They made no lists, they baked no cookies, they expected nothing – in fact, we don’t know if they were good or bad. Like most things with the gospel, we have made it easy and simple when the reality is, the good news is way more wonderful than we can explain.
We embellished the story of gifts given in secret grace to elaborate schemes – if you’re good, you’ll get a lot of cool toys. If you’re bad, you’ll get coal, like your dark heart. This is what WE make of grace because it’s much easier to explain than to say, Christ comes as the secret wonder worker and gives gifts to whosoever will.
May we first believe that bags of gold are coming for us – that God provides really cool surprises – all through our life.
And may we, like Nicholas, be ones that climb the roof of our neighbors to give our gifts in secret surprise too.
Katie LeClair || Director of Youth and Family Faith Formation
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church || Saint Paul, Minnesota
Office 651-699-1378 || Cell 952-905-0321
Follow us on Twitter @GDLCYouth