It’s time that the church recaptures the true identity of Santa Claus. First, he’s real!
He has many names, in Germany he’s called Kris Kringle…In Holland, Sinter Klaas, and when his reputation came to America, they accidentally mis-pronounced his name Sinte Klaes, later turned to Santa Claus. Well his full name was Nicholas, born in the year 245. He wasn’t born in the North Pole, but in Asia Minor, now called Turkey. He was the only child of wealthy parents. However his parents both died of the plague and his uncle took him in. His uncle was Bishop of Patera and Nicholas grew up in his monastery. While Nicholas inherited a great deal of money from his deceased parents, he went on to become a priest. In fact, when he turned 30, the Archbishop of Myra died and when he died, the priests and leading people of the city along with the neighboring bishops came together in their cathedral to select a new bishop. They prayed and asked God to point out who it would be. In a dream, God said to one of them that they should all pray together the next morning. Someone would come through the cathedral door as they prayed. He should be their choice. Nicholas entered the cathedral the next morning. Immediately, the people of the city named him their bishop.
It was a challenge from the beginning as Muslims invaded and threatened the very core of the church in his area of Myra. He also was challenged with the poverty that pervaded this part of the world. Nicholas however became known for doing something about it. He gave away gifts continually throughout his ministry and became known as the “donor of unexpected presents.”
In the year 305, and under the emperor Diocletian, Nicholas was put in prison and tortured for his beliefs in Jesus Christ. After prison it is rumored he was present for the council of Nicea in 325. His burial site is in Bari, Italy.
Thomas Nast made Nicholas famous in the United States in 1863 by drawing a picture of him in the Harpers Weekly, complete with a fur trimmed coat. One final story about this true saint. In his church and before he was a bishop, lived three young women. Their mother had died and the father had only one choice left to survive. He decided to sell one of his daughters into slavery to make money for the family. Nicholas heard about this and resolved to save his daughter from a life of enslavement. So one night, and in order that no one would see him, he climbed to the top of their roof and dropped down a gift of gold to save the family from slavery. Hence the tradition of the chimney! It’s true, all true! To the Glory of God through Jesus Christ it’s all true!