Christmas, as we celebrate it today, is a real mishmash of cultural stories and traditions. These stories range from Christ in a manger, to Santa flying on a sled through the sky.
Today I want to pick up on the history of one of these traditional stories, which is the story of St. Nicolas. He was a priest who lived in about 270 AD. He was a devout and caring man, who lived his faith. At one time there was a poor man in his community, who had 3 daughters. The father was unable to afford a dowry for his daughters, which meant that they were most likely going to end up in prostitution. St. Nicolas took it upon himself to secretly get money to the father in order that the girls were able to get married and avoid prostitution. He took great pains in trying to keep his gifts a secret, even climbing on the roof and dropping the bag of coins down the chimney, which are said to have accidentally landed in a stocking. St. Nicolas gave in secret because he was not after an accolade. He wanted God to receive all the glory.
In a similar way, the story of the birth of Jesus is a story of a gift that changes the outcome of a situation. Christmas is a symbol of salvation for all men. An inevitable outcome averted by the intervention of a loving God.
I want to also pick up on the story of another character in the bible called Simeon. He worked as a high priest in the temple at the time of Jesus' birth. Simeon had been told by God that he would see the Messiah before he died. When his parents, Mary and Joseph came to present Jesus in the temple on the 8th day, Simeon instantly knew that Gods promise to him had been fulfilled.
Simeon could not die before he completed his mission on earth and so when he saw Jesus, his words were - Sovereign Lord, as you promised my eyes have seen your salvation, let me now die in peace.
My question to you today is: What are you here for? What will be the gift through your life that will change the world, for one or for many?