A Visit from Saint Nicholas
by Ralph Buck, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Foley, Alabama
Script for words with children during a worship service.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. [1 Cor 1:3]
Thank you for inviting me to worship with you this morning. I am Bishop Nicholas of Myra, Greece, lately entombed in the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy.
I'm especially pleased to be with you in this parish named for another Saint. You see, the Saint I represent in spirit died 1676 years ago, and I have been invited by your Rector, Father Keith, to be with you today to share with you a few stories and a brief message.
First, would all the children please come down closer so they can hear old Bishop Nicholas better. . . .
Children, what do you know about Saint Nicholas?
- Bishop Nicholas - yes, elected for Myra, and also a Saint
- Saint Nicholas - quite true, by the Grace of God and His Holy Church
- Santa Claus - he is a distant cousin from America, in the "New World"
- Other names in other countries:
- Netherlands - Sinter Klaas
- Germany/Austria/Switzerland - Sankt Nikolaus
- Spain - San Nicolás
- Italy - San Nicola
- Norway - Sankt Nikolaus
- Japan - Sento Nikorasu
- Russian - Svyatogo Nikolaya
Here are some other facts about Nicholas:
- My wealthy parents raised me to be a devout Christian. They died in an epidemic while I was still young.
- Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," I used everything I received from my parents to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.
- I dedicated my life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra, in the region of Lycia, while still a young man. Myra is now known as Demre or Kale in modern Turkey]
- I was present when the Nicene Creed was developed at the First Council of Nicaea in 325. This is the beginning of the Creed we will all say together a bit later.
- Nicholas died December 6, AD 343 in Myra.
- Nicholas was recognized as a Saint.
- In the spring of 1087, sailors from Bari, Italy succeeded in bringing the remains of the Saint, to keep them from being disrespected by non-Christians, to their seaport on the southeast coast of Italy.
Now, just like soldiers, nurses, and policemen, many church leaders wear special clothes to identify them and remind them of their holy duties. Do any of you have any questions about what I am wearing?
[GET CHILDREN'S QUESTIONS and answer as follows - OPTIONS]
- Crozier, or shepherd's crook, carried by Bishops as a symbol of their office.
- The hat that I wear is called a mitre, and was sometimes round with a cross on top. Something very similar was worn by kings in Persia and Assyria long before the Christian era. It is like the headdress worn by ancient Jewish priests. Christian bishops have worn the mitre since about 1100 as a symbol of Christ's victory over sin and death.
- The pectoral cross is a Christian symbol worn by a bishop.
- The surplice or alb is the long white gown trimmed with lace. It came from the Roman toga. Its white color denotes purity, both of soul and body, in him who offers the Lamb of God to the Father.
- The stole that goes around the shoulders and over the chest like a yoke comes from the Greek philosopher's sleeveless garment, and has been used since the 4th century.
- The cinture, or rope belt, or sash was adopted from instructions to Aaron and his sons in the Book of Exodus [29:9] to be girded with sashes.
- The chasuble is the Eucharistic mantle or cloak. Its name comes from Latin for "little house" to shelter the priest.
OK, you may remember from our Gospel reading by Father Keith . . . .
Our Lord Jesus said to bring all the little children to Him…for YOU show us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. We all know the Kingdom is REALLY nice! And ...so are YOU!
So, I thought you might like to hear some stories about Saint Nicholas that show what it means to live in the Kingdom.
A story is told of me as a child six years old.
One day, when it was winter time and there was snow on the ground and little Nicholas was walking home. He saw ahead of him a big boy, several years older than himself. This big boy was a bully, a mean boy who did hurtful things to children younger and smaller than himself.
Just then, he was hitting a little boy and saying, "Give it to me!" Nicholas could see that he was trying to take away the smaller boy's jacket. Nicholas could also see that the big boy was very thin and weak and cold, and he had no coat or jacket of his own.
Now Nicholas had on a beautiful warm wool cloak that his mother had made for him and also a fine fur hat and fur mittens. He knew what he should do. He marched right up to the bully and said, "What are you doing?" The bully turned around to say something rude like, "Get out of here!" or "What business is it of yours?" But the look in Nicholas' eyes stopped him. He could see the light of Heaven burning in them and he lost his strength. He just told the truth. "I am cold," he said.
Nicholas took off his warm cloak and put it around the boy's shoulders. He put his fur hat on the boy's head and his lovely mittens on his hands. Then he said, "Now that you are warm, you must learn to be kind."
The big boy did learn to be kind. When he grew up, he became a great doctor and people came from all over the world to be healed by him. And he never forgot what Nicholas had done for him.
Then, there is the famous story of a poor man with three daughters:
- Now, in those days a young woman's father, in order to attract a suitable husband for her, had to offer something of value-called a dowry. Without a dowry, a woman probably couldn't attract a husband and would have to stay in her father's house and be supported by him.
- Well, this man's daughters had no dowries; he was too poor to continue to support all three, and they were going to be sold into service. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home, providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have come from Bishop Nicholas, and usually landed in stockings or shoes left by the fire to dry.
- I understand that today, there is a custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.
- People also say that some nuns in the 5th to 15th centuries used the night of December 6 to anonymously deposit baskets of food and clothes on the doorsteps of the needy.
Now today, so you won't forget this day or my stories, I have this gift for you:
Here St. Nicholas gives a gift to each child, perhaps a booklet with his stories, a prayer card, and gold chocolate coins or a candy crozier/cane. More suggestions
Would [Children's Ministry Director] please come forward:
[Children's Ministry Director], St Nicholas would like to present two special books to the children's library: [Name the books]. You and your helpers are doing wonderful work here.
You may return to your seats now . . . with the blessing of Saint Nicholas . . . .
[MOVE TO THE PULPIT, if preaching]
From Ralph Buck, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Foley, Alabama