St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Bolivar, Missouri
Friday, December 3, 2021

St Nicholas Day (yes it’s Monday, but we have to get ready!)St Nicholas to Santa Claus How did we get from the generous 4th century bishop, about whom so many legends have sprung up, to the contemporary character?
The very best explanation about myth, and the power of this particular expression of the St Nicholas story comes from Gertrud Nelson in her wonderful book, To Dance With God. If you are a member of St Alban’s you have heard this again and again, and likely have a copy of the book yourself! If you know where it is on your bookshelf, the section on St. Nicholas begins on page 75 and continues through page 95. Clearly, it’s important for her as a model of how myths work, and why.
Nevertheless, when the story of the true giver is distorted, it hurts us all. “…the Santa that we meet in the department often neither mysterious nor inspired. Any vestiges of the numinous or the serious are drowned out with a chuckle. Patronizingly he teaches us to beg for what we want…He teaches us nothing about how to give – how to take a hand in being in being co-giver and co-creator with him.” (Nelson, page 80)

Part of Nicholas’ story is that as a young man, he was orphaned, and inherited a fortune. When he heard that a man’s three daughters couldn’t be married because he was too poor to give them a dowry, Nicholas secretly dropped gold coins into the stockings of each girl, stockings that he found hanging under the window.
Hence, the tradition of hanging up stockings on Christmas eve.

St Nicholas cookies A simple way to include the story of St Nicholas in your Advent is to encourage children to be Nicholas to someone else.
Perhaps when they are thinking of what they want to receive, they can also make lists of what they’d like to give. Simple handmade things are best, especially for young ones. They can make candy with your help, or cookies, paint or draw, write a story and illustrate it (even if you have to type it up,) or model an ornament from air hardening clay. You will know what they can, and might like to do.
This Sunday St Alban’s will give small bags of St Nicholas Day cookies to everyone. They are a sweet anticipation of the joy of Christmas.
And after church we will have cookies already baked, that you – or the children – can decorate as secret gifts for someone else. My grandchildren have given them to teachers, friends, coaches – anyone they particularly want to surprise.
It’s good for then to make something beautiful – and not keep it!



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