Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Boy Who Loved Jesus

Long long ago in a land far far away, there was a young married couple who had a little boy. We’ll call him Nicky. His mom and dad loved him very much and took him to church with them and told them the stories about Jesus in the Bible. In fact when he was 5 years old he could tell the stories and he learned that to be like Jesus meant that you did good things for people and helped people. I think his folks really must have loved Jesus and taught little Nicky to love Jesus, too.

But then something bad happened. Well Nicky was a little older, like a teenager maybe, when his mom and dad died in a bad accident. I don’t know what happened to them, but Nicky’s uncle took him in and Nicky found out something about his mom and dad. They had been very wealthy and now all of that money and land and houses belonged to Nicky!

Well, Nicky had a lot more than he needed to live on, so he started to do what his mom and dad had taught him to do. He started to help people. But he didn’t want lots of people to make a big fuss about it so he decided to do it secretly.
First, he heard about a man who had lost all his money. Maybe his barn and burned down and all of his corn and grain that he had stored for the winter. And now here this man was with no money and he had three daughters and he was running out of food too. He didn’t know what to do.
And the man with the 3 daughters had another problem, there were people he owed money too and they wanted their money. They took his land but that wasn’t enough. Then they said, we’re going to take your little daughters away and sell them as slaves!
They could do that back in those days. It was a terrible thing.
So, on the night before the oldest daughter was going to be taken away and sold, she washed her only pair of socks and hung them by the fireplace overnight to dry and be warm for in the morning. When she got up the next day and went to get her socks she found a lump inside. In fact, several lumps. And when she reached in she found out it was coins, Gold coins!
She was so excite she ran to tell daddy and he was amazed and said now we can buy food and have enough to keep you from becoming a slave!
Guess what. The next morning there was another small bag on the floor with money in it to buy more food and keep the next daughter from becoming a slave.
Then the daddy said, I’m going to stay awake tonight so if they leave something else I can find out who it is. So he sat up and waited and waited and waited. Then he fell asleep. A little later there was a thump! He looked and there was a little bag on the floor under and open window. He jumped up and ran outside just in time to see… do you know who he saw? Yep, it was young Nicky.
The father said, “Nicky, is that you?” Nicky turned and came back and the father said, “How can I ever thank you for these wonderful gifts? You have saved my family.” Nicky said, “Just give thanks to Jesus Christ for hearing your prayers, and please don’t tell anybody I am the one who did this.” The father agreed and kept his secret a long time.

Over the years Nicky did many things to help people out secretly and he told people all over about Jesus. He talked about Jesus so much and lived such a good life that one day the town asked him to be their preacher. Mr. Nick was almost out of money himself, because he had given almost all of his money away, and he said yes and became not little Nicky, or even Mr. Nick. He became Pastor Nicholas.
And he became quite well known as a pastor. But then something really bad happened. When pastor Nicky was starting to get old, a mean and evil King came to the throne. He was emperor of all of Europe and his name was Diocletian. He didn’t like Christians and he didn’t like Jesus and he started beating Christians and throwing them in prison.
Some of the people would ‘recant.” They would say “OK I won’t worship or talk about Jesus anymore.” So they wouldn’t be beaten or put in prison. But pastor Nicholas wouldn’t do this. He kept on talking about Jesus and telling others and so Diocletian had him put in prison for a long time.
Then one day Diocletian died and a new King came into power. The new King was Constantine. He was good to the Christians. In fact, his mother was a Christian. So he let all the Christians out of prison.
Well when pastor Nicholas got home his town treated him like a hero. Now they called him something new; not little Nicky or pastor Nicholas, they called him Nicholas the Confessor. Because no matter what happened to him he confessed Jesus as the Lord. He became so well know that over 400 churches all over Europe were name after Nicholas. But these folks began to call him something else. They didn’t call him Nicholas the Confessor, they called him Saint Nicholas. They called him a saint because he was such a good Christian and loved Jesus! 

Well way up in the country of Holland where the Dutch people live, they didn’t say Saitn Nicholas like we do, in their language he was called Sinter Klass. Which, over the years, became Santa Claus. So little Nicky grew up to be Santa Claus. All because he loved Jesus and tried to be like Him!
You see Santa Claus knew that Christmas was all about Jesus, not about him. He wanted people to know about Jesus not about him. He wanted people to thank Jesus for answering their prayers not to thank him for anything. That’s the kind of man Saint Nicholas becme.
And that’s why we celebrate Jesus, not Santa Claus, at Christmas!

Just thought you'd like to know Santa Claus fits in to all of this!

Brother Clark

PS. By the way, among all the stories that grew up about Nicky in later years comes the story that after Nick got out of prison, he contended with the Arian controversy. Arius had claimed that Jesus was not truly divine like God the father. It is said that Nick traveled to Nicea for the council of 307 and argued with Arius there. He got so upset he slapped Arius across the face. The other Bishops were so outraged that they defrocked him. Then Mary and Jesus appeared next to him so they recanted and reinstated him as a Bishop. So, you don’t want to get on Santa’s Naughty List!