Food for Thought-10 Things You Need to Know About Saint Nick

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1. Saint Nicholas was a Christian saint who lived during the third and fourth centuries AD. He was from what we would today call Turkey (often referred to as Asia Minor).
2. Saint Nicholas’ first language was Greek. Many of the people who lived in this part of Turkey were of Greek heritage and followed traditional Greco-Roman religious practices.
3. He was a Bishop of the church in Myra, what is now Demre, Turkey.
4. He lived during a time of great change for the early church. In his lifetime, Christianity went from being an aggressively oppressed religious minority to becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire.
5. Nicholas was one of the leaders of the church against a group of people who claimed Jesus was a bit “lesser” than God the Father. Traditional Christian belief holds that God the Father and God the Son are one in the same. These believers, called “Arians”, were regarded as a threat to the basic integrity of what was still a fragile church. download6. Nicholas was known to be a gift giver. Nick liked to give his gifts in secret, surprising people when they least expected it.
7. Some people believe that when Nicholas died, his bones and personal possessions were stolen and taken from their resting place in Turkey. I’ve seen a spot where locals claim Nicholas has been reburied in Ireland. However, not many people beyond the graveyard believe Saint Nicholas to be resting in Ireland. It’s a nice thought though.
8. When you do see pictures of him (icons) he’s usually dressed like a saint or Bishop of fourth century. He’s bald, holding a Bible or book, and you might see images of the Virgin Mary in the background.
9. In a time when the church was becoming institutionalized and being co-opted into the power systems of the empire, Nicholas remain focused on helping people.
10. Do you know the Nicene Creed?  It is printed in the back of most of our hymnals.  This creed is the standard statement of faith throughout the Christian Church. It’s the product of a council called by the Emperor Constantine to standardize Christian belief throughout the Empire. Nicholas was part of that council and was one of the Bishops who signed the creed. His greatest gift to the church may be helping us sort out what we believe in a way that makes sense.

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