Who is Santa Claus? Part 2: Reformer, Leader, History shaper
As I began to mention in my last blog Santa was not only known for the miracles that he performed he was a significant influencer in world history. He was one of the pioneering fathers and a prominent historical leader in the Christian Church and has greatly influenced our experience of Christianity today.
Santa (St Nicolas) became the bishop of Myra in the late 200’s and stayed there the rest of his life as bishop. It is presumed that he was a young man when he was appointed as bishop and that God was the one who did the appointing. Here is the account of his ordination according to Pierre & Germaine Noury in their book Saint Nicolas written 1928:
“Nicolas selection to be bishop was unusual. After the former bishops death, other bishops gathered to select the next bishop for the see of Myra. During the conclave, the wisest bishop heard a voice in the night telling him to watch the doors of the church the next morning at matins. The first person to enter named “Nicolas” was to be the new bishop. The wise one told the others, counseling them to be at prayer while he waited at the doors. When the hour came the first to arrive was a young man. When asked his name he replied, “I am Nicolas.” The bishop addressed him, “Nicolas, servant and friend of God, for your holiness you shall be bishop of this place.” They brought him into the church and placed him in the bishop’s seat where he was consecrated the new bishop of Myra.”
After his ordination as bishop of Myra, St Nicolas’ fame spread rapidly throughout the known world as people caught word of the many miracles, signs, and wonders he performed and of the courageous and generous way that he led the city of Myra as their Bishop.
Saint Nicolas was known as a man that cared deeply for, and courageously stood for his people and his city. He was willing to lay his life down for his people regardless of their social standing. One great story tells of three innocent men that where arrested during Emperor Constantine’s reign. They were arrested unjustly and sentenced to execution by beheading. As their heads where covered and the crowd had gathered, just before the sword fell on their necks, St Nicolas grabbed the sword and threw itto the ground demanding time to prove their innocence. After some time their innocence was proven and their freedom secured. For such an act Santa could have been executed along with the three men, but in a great demonstration of love and honor he was willing to lay his life down for his people. Another one of my favorites is also from the book, Saint Nicolas, by Pierre & Germaine Nour.
Myra experienced famine in AD 311 and 312, and again in 333. Crops had failed and people were hungry. Bishop Nicholas learned that ships bound for Alexandria with cargos of wheat had anchored in the harbor. The holy man implored the sailors to take a measure of grain from each ship so that the people would have food. The sailors said, "No," as the wheat was "meted and measured" and every bit must be delivered. Nicholas replied, "Do this, and I promise, in the truth of God, that it shall not be lessened or diminished when you get to your destination." So the sailors took a measure from each ship and continued on their way to Alexandria. When the wheat was unloaded, the full amount was accounted for and the tale told—all the emperor's ministers worshiped and praised God with thanksgiving for his servant Nicholas. Throughout the famine people came to Bishop Nicholas for wheat. He gave it to all who had need and the grain lasted for two years with enough remaining to plant new crops.
Now that is supernatural food multiplication! And a powerful example of the strong faith and trust that Santa had in God. He knew the character of Father God and was obviously deeply convinced of his faithfulness and goodwill towards His people.
Santa was also a man deeply concerned with establishing Kingdom culture for the successive generation. He was vigorously involved with the establishment of the doctrine of the trinity at the council of Nicaea in 325ad. His voice was one of the strongest voices establishing the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus and keeping it at the core of Christianity (something that we can easily take for granted today). During the council Santa was actually temporarily stripped of his office for an unrestrained act of unbridled passion against Arias of Egypt. The account is quit interesting and it goes as follows. “When confronted by the unyielding Arias, Nicholas slapped him in the face. For such a breach of decorum, Nicholas was brought before Constantine, who stripped him of his office and had him thrown into prison. During the night, Jesus with his Mother Mary appeared to Nicholas: Jesus bringing the book of the Gospels, and Mary, the bishop's stole which had been taken from him. In this way Nicholas was reinstated.” Nor the stole or his office as bishop was taken from him again. It was apparent to all concerned that Jesus had appointed him and was willing to graciously defend and keep him in his office regardless of his unrestrained anger. He was a door that God had opened and that no man could shut.
I love the way that Santa obviously cared so deeply for both the lives of the people living around Him and the lives of the generations that his life would effect in the decades and centuries to come. Santa inspires me to love and serve the people around me with selfless passion and to sow my life into something bigger than me that lives on well beyond my time here on earth. Something that will bless and be strength to multiple generations ahead of me.
…. To be continued in part 3 tomorrow.