Poem for St Nicholas

by Robert Gibbons

Saint Nicholas, 270-343 CE

I

St Nicholas relief statue
Saint Nicholas, Salisbury Cathedral
Photo: J M Rosenthal
Firebrand or firework?
Nicholas, bishop, defender of the faith,
antagonising Arius at Nicaea!
Is this your legacy?
For if it is it’s patchy,
Myra’s Bishop lists amongst those present,
But, that was a later addition!
Nor is there good record
of your so called assault upon Arius himself.
All good copy, all entertaining,
underlying your fidelity to Christ!

II

But this is not your patrimony,
nor is Father Christmas,
that mess of tales thrown together in fun!
Instead, quietly, patiently, gently,
as you yourself seem to be—
tales of gift giving, rescue of three maidens
-giving them their dowries,
defender of the weak,
rescuer of the innocent,
lover of the poor,
healer of children, calmer of the sea,
many things became your care!

III

All these things, some difficult to date,
others simply hearsay—
nevertheless give us a guide
to living out the Gospel.
For Nicholas is synonymous with love,
generous love done without a trumpet call!
Love that came down in flesh
and dwelt amongst us.
Now we behold his glory and his light
in those ‘angels’ amongst us
whose message is in giving.

IV

This at Christmas is the endless tale,
to which Nicholas is bound
as a witness of the Good News.
For salvation also comes in little presents
placed in the stockings of the poor!
It comes as gentle light that soothes,
not rockets, nor exploding Catherine wheels,
for your glory is that of the Magi’s star!

By Fr Robin Gibbons, an Eastern Rite (Greek Catholic) priest, from Independent Catholic News, December 6, 2020. Used by permission.

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