In church today, our rector handed out a card with a icon of St. Nicholas, similar to the one on the left.
On the back of the card read the following:
Nicholas was born in the 3rd century in Asia Minor. He used his entire inheritance to help the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. He attended the Council of Nicea in AD 325. Greatly loved for his faith, compassion and care, he is venerated in both East and West.
OK., that’s pretty cool. He gave away his entire inheritance to those in need. I never knew that. I thought he had elves helping him or something, but I guess I got that part wrong.
The rest of the card really hit me and made me feel stupid and cheated for never having been taught this as a child.
Nicholas saved young women from slavery, protected sailors, spared innocents from excecution, provided grain in a famine and rescued a kidnaped boy.
Nicholas was a beast. Mother Teresa, Oskar Schindler, and Samuel L. Jackson all rolled into one. What an absolute crushing beast.
I like the icon–his eyes. He is looking off to the side, like he’s annoyed about having to sit there for a portrait while people in need were suffering.
Can you imagine how he would react to what he has become in our contemporary society?
[Say in Samuel L. Jackson voice, preferably the diner scene from Pulp Fiction] “Let me get this straight. You want me to fly through the air, slide down your chimney and give you stuff? How about I kick down your door and take all your money and give it people who need it?”]
OK, I’m exaggerating and “totally misunderstanding Samuel L. Jackson” (to anticipate some humorless comments). But, my point still stands. For “Jolly Old St. Nick” to have pulled off things like standing between a slave owner and his property, or an executioner and his victim, or go about unkidnaping a boy, he was probably a very brave man indeed with better things on his mind than making sure nice children get an X-Box or an iPad 3.
Yes, I know, he also beat up people he had theological disagreements with, which makes him a bit too much like Samuel L. Jackson–and perhaps the first of the neo-reformed–but I’m willing to roll with that for the time being, seeing it’s Christmas and all.
I feel better now. Thanks for listening.
[This post first appeared two years ago at this time. I understand some of the stories about St. Nick might be of questionable historical value. I don’t really care.]