Monday, December 23, 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Baruch 4: 36 – 5:9 
Psalm 45, 46
Galatians 3:23 – 4:7  
Matthew 1: 18 – 25 

Differences are what make us unique and give all of creation its beauty but differences can make us afraid, judgemental and can distract us from seeing the common spark of the Divine in each of us. It is very easy for me to watch the daily news and give in to fear as I see who our world leaders are and what they are doing. However, that is exactly what they want, for us to be fearful, to be so afraid of each other and out differences, that we become willing pawns, even participants, in building walls and fighting wars.

The only way to cast out this fear is with love. The love that sees beyond the differences that make us afraid cannot come from our fearful human hearts but is a love that “passes all our understanding”. Like forgiveness, it is a gift that we can only give as we open ourselves to receive it from God through Christ.

“In Christ, there is no male or female...”, young or old, gay or straight, Canada or USA...In Christ, there is no “us versus them”. As The Common Cup sings, we need to “draw the circle wide, draw it wider still” and include all differences including the ones that we don't understand and that make us afraid.

Though I can absolutely see and love the beauty in every snowflake that is different, I cannot, without God's help, see and love every different facet of humanity especially what I see and judge as immoral, even evil. However, with God all things are possible so I pray that this Christmas, Christ's love can be born in and through me in a way that overcomes and transmutes this fear so that I can somehow serve as an instrument of peace and love even when facing what makes me afraid.

Nancy Scott

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Monday, December 23, 2019

Baruch 4: 21 – 29  
Psalm 93, 96
Galatians 3:15 – 22  
Luke 1: 67 – 80 

In Jan Richardson’s, In Wisdom’s Path (2000), she likens Advent to a cave season – a time of hibernation during which “we turn inward, … we open ourselves to God [and] we are met by One who will be a companion in the mystery and the darkness.”  As we recall the larger context of Luke 1:67-80, Zechariah was banished to the cave of his heart when the Angel Gabriel struck Zechariah deaf and mute (Luke 1:20) in response to his astonishment and disbelief at the Angel’s announcement that Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth would bear a son to be named John (Luke 1:11-13).  Poor Zachariah, all he could do was watch Elizabeth go through her nine months of pregnancy, and how did this couple communicate?  In writing, through visuals, via hand signs??  As Zachariah silently watched the growth of their child, he was likely also pondering the signs of God emerging quietly from the cave of his heart.  Luke 1:67-80 is called the Canticle of Zachariah or the Benedictus because it proclaims the spirit-filled song of gratitude and praise to God that poured out from Zachariah’s lips when the child was finally born and named John.  As we prepare to move out of our own Advent hibernation and into the Birth of Divine Light that Christmas represents, what signs of God are emerging from the cave of our hearts?  And what words of gratitude and praise will pour from our lips?

Cate McBurney

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

2 Samuel 7: 18 – 29  
Psalm 80
Galatians 3: 1 – 14  
Luke1: 57 – 66

The prophecy foretold by the Angel Gabriel to Zechariah about the birth of a son by his wife Elizabeth was deeply profound.  Zechariah was filled with doubt as his wife was past the age of conceiving.  Due to his clear misgivings and apprehension at the Angel's words, Gabriel pronounced that Zechariah would be unable to speak until the day of his child's birth.

The prophecy claimed that the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth would bring them great joy and gladness---and this joy would be shared by many and that John will be great in the sight of the Lord.  In contrast, Elizabeth firmly believed the Angel's words and prepared herself for the birth of the child.  Elizabeth went into seclusion for five months saying ---this is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.   

As John was the name chosen and spoken of by the Angel Gabriel, Elizabeth and Zechariah agreed and respected this choice of name.  To further cement the importance of the name given to his son, Zechariah had a tablet created in which John's name was written and immediately his mouth was opened.

Although Zechariah expressed doubt at the possibility of the birth of a son I believe that it was the message of the Divine Light that allowed them to overcome their fear and apprehension and accept the prophecy.  

Beulah Walcott

Friday, December 20, 2019

Saturday, December 21, 2019

2 Samuel 7: 1 – 17 
Psalm 72
Titus 2:11 – 3:8a  
Luke 1: 39 – 48

“Let grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon; let it thrive like the grass of the field.” Ps. 72:16

This verse from Psalm 72 kindled childhood memories of growing up in Brandon, Mb in the “Wheat City”. I was blessed to live in a time when I was free to spend hours outside; roaming through the fields and pastures. I remember the delight of the bright and open blue sky; brilliant sunlight, swaying prairie grasses and the seas of golden wheat.

Farmers sow seed, plough, plant and harvest. They endure through endless seasons of barren ground, seeded soil and new growth. The crops need not only the right balance of nature’s elements; sunlight, rain, well prepared soil etc. but also depend on the commitment and labour of the farmers and fieldworkers. So much effort but imagine the harvest! The hungry are fed through the farmers’ labors and by God’s providence. Some good years of bounty and some pretty hard and dry with little yield. But the farmer perseveres and just keeps on working. This is their calling.

We too are called to be in and to keep working in the vineyard; the Kingdom of God here on earth. We are called to find and keep a balance by scripture study, praying, and to listen in silence for the voice of God; to listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit. And out of this silence we too grow and will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit as we live through and work through all the seasons of our own lives.

May the Divine Light shine in and through you this Advent season and always.

Rhonda Cross

Friday, December 20, 2019

1 Samuel 2:1b – 10  
Psalm 66, 67
Titus 2: 1 – 10  
Luke 1: 26 – 38 

When the angel visits Mary with a powerful invitation to her from God I like to imagine that this young woman of deep faith, sitting quietly in her room, becomes aware of a radiant divine light of joy encompassing her.  A deep feeling of God’s unconditional love enfolds her, offering hope and reassurance that “all will be well” despite her “earthly” concerns.   Light and love fills her soul, giving her courage to say “yes” to the mystery of the unknown; “yes” to the birth of God’s Son within her; “yes” to sharing in the joy of God’s plan of salvation.   

How can we, too, say “yes” to God so that we can be more alive and aware of that same divine light and limitless love growing within us as we journey deeper in relationship with God?

When I take time to practice patience and “wait” in silence and stillness I realize God is born anew in me each day:

I listen for and hear God’s “music” within me and others; 
I let go of being in control and open myself completely to God, warts and all, knowing that I am always precious in God’s sight;
I learn to trust without asking “why” knowing that God is always with me despite my fears;

May we each find time daily to be still, to wait, to delight with God and, like Mary, to say “yes” to God’s birth in us!

Margaret Macmillan   

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Zephaniah 3: 14 – 20  
Psalm 61, 62
Titus 1: 1 – 16  
Luke 1: 1 – 25 

The Bible reports and interprets significant happenings.  Whereas all of them are significant, the most important to our faith are those that relate to Jesus Christ, God-incarnate.  They are not abstractions or theories or pantheistic generalities, but concrete, actual events localized in time and space.  Long before Christmas, even with creation itself, God revealed God-self in omnipotent action.  At Christmas, through the Christ of Christmas, God became visible before humankind and began to relate to people in redeeming love.
It means that Christians don’t have to go about telling tales about some doctrine of ‘salvation’, but in proclaiming Christ may present a living, personal salvation for individual mean and women about them.  This is the central miracle of
Christianity---the Incarnation.  It was towards this, the Incarnation, that everything moved until its accomplishment, finding fulfillment and explanation.  It is from this, the Incarnation,  that all subsequent movements have proceeded, depending upon it for direction and dynamics.  ‘Blessed is she who believed,’ said Elizabeth concerning Mary, who was to be the mother of God-incarnate.  ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,’ is our Lord’s word to us who live a couple of thousand years on this side of the great Christmas, Easter and Pentecost happenings.  As Christians we believe, by the grace of God, that these happenings are more significant than anything else in life.

Sue House

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Genesis 3: 8 – 15  
Psalm 24, 29
Revelation 12:1–10 
John 3: 16 – 21 

Today’s texts for Morning Prayer offer larger-than-life archetypal images depicting the struggle between good and evil, light and darkness.  These texts are not to be taken literally, of course.  But they remind us that Christmas is our celebration of God’s light born into the world.  

God is the light inside of everything.  We, too, in all of our littleness and ordinariness, are God’s light in the world.  We, too, are called to shine our light into broken places.
My daughter Ellen, for instance, was a tiny woman who had a severe developmental disability.  She was a silent person who was aware of everything going on around her.  Though quite little, Ellen took up a lot of space.  She was small but shone a strong light.

I remember going with Ellen and her L’Arche assistants to an appointment with her neurologist.  First, we were interviewed by a resident physician who hadn’t met Ellen before.  He was tense and stiff, asking us questions about her as though she wasn’t in the room and nervously avoiding eye contact with her.  Meanwhile, Ellen stood directly across the room from him, silently watching, taking in his anxiety.  Then she began to walk towards him, and the resident blurted out anxiously, “What does she want? What is she going to do?”  I said, “She wants to kiss your hand.”  And, with a chuckle, she did just that.  The resident relaxed.

Usually, it is the doctor who is called to ease the fears of the patient.  But we can all, in our ordinariness and in our littleness, shine a light that casts out fear.

Barbara Sheppard

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Tuesday December 17, 2019

Zechariah 2: 1 – 13  
Psalm 45
Revelation 3: 14 – 22 
Matthew 24: 32 – 44 

The imminence of joy glistens through all the readings of this day with a glory described in exotic symbols of gold, ivory palaces, and fragrant spices. This is not an unexpected joy but one greeted with expectation and fulfillment. A joy that comes through a deep faith, fidelity and perseverance towards an intentional living relationship with Christ and others in the busyness of the everyday. Christ beckons to us from the very heart of life and we must not risk falling for the most dangerous of all delusions: that of there being plenty of time to respond. We know it is Christ that shines within us, showing us the transcendental virtues of goodness, beauty and truth that shine in our soul, inherited by virtue of being created in God’s likeness. But this core must be fully owned and engaged as a living flame that glows through a kind heart, shines in a compassionate mind and emits love through a generous and gentle spirit. This is the door by which Christ’s knocks, a place of new beginnings for a heart that wants to be opened to kindness, generosity, and patience; filled with the light of compassion, in a willing and constant state of transformative change. May we open the door of our hearts to give vitality to the light that abides within this Advent season so that we can all awaken and greet the coming of Christ with a deep abiding joy in the celebration that is a life lived to the full towards a new dawning.

A Sister of SSJD

Monday, December 16, 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019

Zechariah1: 7 – 17
Psalm 41, 52
Revelation 3: 7 – 13 
Matthew 24: 15 – 31 

The readings appointed for today are all about God’s vengeance and destruction, certainly not about divine light!  As we approach Christmas, we are surrounded by light – artificial light, multi-coloured, flashing and glaring with that horrible LED glow! 

Christmas can be the darkest of times for many.  Loneliness, isolation, homelessness, hunger, family squabbles, anything but the love of Christ whose birth we want to celebrate.  The lights of Christmas cast a black shadow for many.  For more and more people Christ’s light is not a reality.  And the Christ whose birth we celebrate is not even part of the equation.  It’s a holiday season at the idol of consumerism.

So, what are we being called to do?  How is God’s divine light being manifested in each of us?  And how are we bringing and being light in the world?  The psalmist instructs us: “Happy are they who consider the poor and the needy!” and goes on to tell us that if we do this God will look after us in time of trouble and when we are sick.

But, I do not believe that God barters with us…if you do this, God will do that.  God loves us unconditionally and in so doing has planted Christ’s light within us.  That light radiates within, healing us, forgiving our sins and helping to make us a whole person capable of bringing light to others.  

When we shine with inner light Christ’s light shines forth in all our actions and, in so doing, we can bring the spirit of Christmas alive throughout the year.   

Doreen Davidson   

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday, December 15

Psalm 63: 1 – 8, 98 
Amos 9: 11-15
2 Thessalonians 2: 1-3, 13-17
John 5: 30 – 47   

“Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.” Psalm 63:7

As age and health issues over the last seven years lowered my abilities to keep up with my desires to do; now I needed to learn to be. That decision came with much difficulty. Fortunately I received good advice and wise counsel – which I finally adopted - from others who journeyed with me.  
Most recently, following two and a half years of treatment and self-care after a fall on the ice in Dec. 2016, I began to realize I had reached the highest level I could attain on this healing journey. Being pro-active, I had sought medical and complementary health care. I had, however, re-damaged previous injuries that did not recover as well as before including additional damages of the hip area.

I began praying for God’s guidance to help me accept my limitations with grace. So, when a Eucharist dismissal deeply touched my spirit, I chose to paraphrase it as my personal prayer: May I go in peace, glorifying the Lord by my life. Thanks be to God.

Over time I recognized what being meant for me—freely letting go of what I could no longer do, and doing what I could. It is about presence—with those I encounter in life; my relationships with family, friends, SSJD Sisters and Oblates; my prayer life and ministry, and church attendance and involvement as I am able. 

Once convinced, I felt content and relieved by allowing myself to live in this new found freedom—to be

To God be the glory.

Phyllis Beauchamp

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Haggai 2:1 – 9 
Psalm 30, 32
Revelation 3: 1 – 6 
Matthew 24: 1 – 14 

Haggai the prophet hears the voice of God concerning the new temple.  Overnight, David’s weeping turns to joy; he hears God saying to him “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go…counsel you and watch over you”.   John urges the people of Sardis to “wake up and strengthen what (they) still have before it dies completely”.  Jesus’ response to the disciples’ questions – “beware that no-one leads you astray” – precedes a list of what sounds much like our current events. He states “this is routine history…No sign of the end…stay with it”.

Reading the four translations that I have from NRSV, NIV, The Message and Good News did not immediately prompt me with “divine light” as I couldn’t even see the words.  As I read through Psalm 30 again, perhaps with a more open and receptive mind - a glimmer?  A “light” flickered – a “bright” thought, an insight? I went back and read the passages again…and again.

I wonder…In order to have or experience “insight” into or about something or someone, is it a form of “divine light” that puts a different glow on our openness to the situation, shape or object?  Sounds rather simplistic…but is it?

In this season of Advent we have the opportunity to be open to let the divine light of insight come into familiar and even old ideas and experience them anew.  May God help us to leave our receiver switch “on”!

Mary L. (Bunny) Stewart

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

Haggai 1: 1 – 15 
Psalm 31
Revelation 2: 18 – 29 
Matthew 23: 27 – 39 

Perhaps our earliest memory of a picture of Jesus is of the caring shepherd tending lovingly to the sheep, carrying a lamb upon His shoulder, rescuing a fallen lamb from a rocky precipice. 

Have you ever compared Jesus to a hen, gathering her scattered chicks to her, protecting them under her “puffed up” wings and breast feathers?

One of today’s verses is from Matthew 23: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Jesus longs to mother us, to protect us, to give us comfort, to forgive us as does a mother.

Now we are awaiting the birth of The Christ Child, The Messiah, who is coming to share just how much God loves us. This wee baby will be our Shepherd who lovingly leads us through life's challenges, who will tenderly carry us and reach out to rescue us. This baby will be our Mother Hen who will lovingly gather us in under protective feathers.

In the words of Sr. Elizabeth Ann Eckert SSJD, from her hymn “Christ the Hen”:

“O Jesus you long to gather us up
and shelter us under your wings.
As a hen takes her brood within her nest
close sheltered from danger and harm

You stretch out your strong arms, like wings on the cross
and lovingly gather us in.
Your heart calls to us as hens call their broods,
and you shelter us close by your heart.”*

Carolyn Madeley

*used with permission

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Christ of the Breadlines  by Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990)

Amos 9: 1-10
Psalm 37: 1 – 18 
Revelation 2: 8 – 17  
Matthew 23:13 – 26

“Divine Light” – “Divine Truth”.  The light of God is a pure light.  Whatever that light touches, exposes divine truth. 

We are reminded today that God’s truth is not the world’s truth.  We are warned against following the ways of the world over the ways of God. We hear this in the words of the prophet Amos who cautions us against neglecting the laws of God by ignoring the needs of the poor.  We hear this in the book of Revelation as we are encouraged to “Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  God understands the affliction and poverty of the rich.  We hear it in the Gospel of Matthew as the scribes and Pharisees, the leaders of the church, are admonished for lining their own pockets and forgetting the needs of the poor. Their focus is on adiaphora and not on things that are life-giving and life-supporting.

Today, we are reminded that God’s truth is not the world’s truth.  Advent, the season of preparation for the incarnation, is not about how we serve ourselves.  It is about how we give witness to the light of God through our service to others. 

Debra Johnston

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Amos 8:1 – 14   
Psalm 38
Revelation 1: 17 – 2:7 
Matthew 23: 1 – 12 

Oh my! What foreboding texts for today. So full of gloom and doom. The prophet receives a harsh warning with respect to the waywardness of the people. The psalmist is so overcome with grief as to withdraw from once normal discourse with his friends. The seer is taken for a walk among the lamp-stands representing the Churches, each one under the ever watchful eye and judgement of the Lord. The scribes and Pharisees are hearing woes condemning the lack of integrity with respect to much of their religious practices.

In my struggle to find ‘light’ in the midst of so much darkness, I found myself drawn to Jesus’ words to the angel of the Church in Ephesus. He commends them for their toil and patient endurance. However, his complaint about them? “You have less love now than you used to.”

Love for Christ and his teachings. It seems the original love, for whatever reason or circumstance, was greatly diminished or abandoned. The judgement and call for us to be renewed in that first love leaves me wondering. What would the One who walks among the lamp-stands say of our own Church, of its love? Is it generously hospitable, fully inclusive, genuinely compassionate and radically committed to the justice that marks the reign of Christ? And, likewise, what about me and my love? How have I abandoned it?  So today, I pray for our renewed joy in the Gospel, for strength to live our lives in the light of its teachings and blessings and for mercy on the day of the Lord’s judgement of all who bear His name.

Lynne Samways-Hiltz 
and Fred Hiltz

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Amos 7: 10 – 17  
Psalm 26, 28
Revelation 1: 9 –16 
Matthew 22: 34 – 46

Here we are in the middle of Advent.  This is a time we prepare for the birth of Jesus into this finite world - to become one with us, to reveal God’s intentions for us, to teach us how we should live. A time to reflect on the mystery of Creation and the oneness, the commonality of the human family to whom He comes. 

I struggled with today’s readings, trying to find inspiration.  They seemed to be pointing to dividedness; division between good and evil; division between those who follow God’s way and those who choose another way.  They point to consequences for those who do not follow the right way - exile, removal from God’s presence.  They talk about isolating oneself from those who do not follow God’s way and a plea for rewarding those who do.  Where then does this lead us?  How are we to live with those around us?  How are we to live in a world coming at us incessantly in the daily news? 

I finally found hope.  There, in the middle of all of these questions,  was the answer.  We are called “to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds and to love our neighbours as ourselves.”  We make it so complicated and yet it is really so simple.  My prayer is that each one of us will find the strength of the Holy Spirit to follow this commandment as we prepare to enter the Holy Season of Christmas - where the emphasis is on love.

Jean Gandon

Monday, December 9, 2019

Monday, December 9, 2019

Amos 7: 1 – 9  
Psalm 25
Revelation 1: 1 – 8  
Matthew 22: 23 – 33 

I am writing this outside in the warmth and light of late August. My cat is sitting on “his” chair beside me, glorifying in the sun. I find myself thinking that if Tully the Cat could speak he would have plenty to say about light and the warmth that suffuses our soul. I am glad for the sudden holy reflection that nudges and pushes me to dance inwardly with joy. As I watch Tully I hear myself saying, “To you O God, I lift up my soul”.  In the darkening waiting weeks of Advent I have seen Tully following the path of a sunbeam or looking out the window, waiting. Anticipating with faith the time when he will feel the delight. This draws me to the realisation that in the dark coldness of winter the sunbeam lights up God’s presence. Calling me to respond. 
Divine light is God’s miraculous love and solace in our darkest pain and fear. God’s light also encompasses our happiness till we are able to see real joy. I have learned as an embodied soul I must actively glory in this divine sunbeam. Heavenly light belongs with Creation’s light. This is incarnation. And if I do not allow or recognise the divine light that already lives in my soul I will always see God as separate from my life. I will miss dancing with God’s light and not know God’s will guiding my journey. Advent light teaches me to be faithful, ready in anticipation, like my cat. 

Joanne Davies

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Amos 6: 1 – 14  
Psalm 148, 149, 150 
2 Thessalonians 1: 5 – 12  
Luke 1: 57 – 68 

On a Sunday early in Advent, an elderly woman recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital and now living in a Toronto boarding house, called the Chaplaincy office of the hospital, requesting communion.

I arrived while Mary was still eating her lunch in the dining room, a dimly lit area in the basement of the house.  I joined her and encouraged her to take her time with her meal.  A cockroach walked slowly up the dingy wall beside our table, only a few inches from her plate.  Legally blind, Mary did not notice it.  She finished her meal, rose to her feet, and said, “I’m ready to see God now.”  

In that moment, hearing her words, it was as if heaven and earth embraced, radiating a Great Light.  Mary’s face was beaming in anticipation.  

During the celebration of communion, Mary held herself with dignity and respect, participating in the prayers.  The woman who shared Mary’s room had been lying on her bed quietly while we began communion, but at one point jumped up and screamed, “I need an injection … give me my injection!”  Mary did not lose her sense of dignity and concentration, and the girl exited the room.

As I took my leave, Mary quietly said, “Thank you for bringing God to me.”  This woman’s anticipation and profound receiving of the Body and Word and Spirit of God – amid degradation and trial – has become a model for me and, no doubt, for other believers.

Let us bless the Lord as we await the coming of Christ during this Advent season.

Yvonne Jenson

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Amos 5: 18 – 27  
Psalm 20, 21:1 – 8 
Jude 17 – 25 
Matthew 22.15 – 22

Light represents life. God is light and He gives life. The wise men followed a light that led to Jesus. Some people see light during meditation. There have been many reports of people being legally dead and brought back to life and after recovery, they talk about having seen and been drawn toward a bright light.

As a pilot, I have encountered many strange things in my career. On one flight, we were flying at night in cloud under the direction of a radar controller on the ground. In this environment, one sees nothing but a dark gray wall around the aircraft.

Suddenly, we had a large bright light directly in front of us. There was no way to tell how big it was, but it filled about a quarter of one side of the windshield. We turned in both directions, but it moved to stay in front of us. We asked the ground controller if he saw anything on radar in front us and he said there was nothing anywhere near us. Ten to fifteen minutes later, it suddenly got bigger and came straight at us. Finally, it moved and passed us close to our right wing tip, rocking our aircraft. Again, we asked the controller if he saw anything in our vicinity and he said ‘no’.  Celestial?  As a crew, we decided that we could not tell anyone about this because no one would believe us.

As Christians, we cannot be in the dark about events that happen in the world. We must be the light that shines in the darkness. When we pray, we seek light not darkness, because the light sees us.

Nora Bottomley

Friday, December 6, 2019

Friday, December 6, 2019

Detail of a miniature of St Nicholas;
from the Melisende Psalter, Jerusalem, 1131-1143, 
Egerton MS 1139, f. 209r.

Amos 5: 1 – 17 
Psalm 16, 17
Jude 1 – 16 
Matthew 22: 1 – 14

December 6th is the Feast Day for St. Nicholas. Since my husband is from the Netherlands, we have always celebrated this holiday. St. Nicholas was one of the most popular saints in the early church. He dedicated his life to serving God.  He obeyed Jesus’ words to “Sell what you have and give the money to the poor,” and he used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.  In the Netherlands, St. Nicholas is known as “Sinterklaas,” and he rides through the streets on a white horse to determine if the children he meets have been well behaved. The children put carrots and apples in their wooden shoes for the horse. The next morning, they find chocolate letters, cookies and some gifts.
The Feast of St. Nicholas is about giving rather than receiving for “It is in giving that we receive.” Christmas then is a holy day reserved for the celebration of the birth of Christ and not a day centered on the opening of gifts.
The Season of Advent is the time when Christians prepare to greet Jesus who comes into our lives each day. It is a time of longing and quiet reflection, not celebration. 
St. Nicholas is a good Advent saint.  It is said that he did many amazing things; but it is how he did these things that matters. Nicholas became popular because he was such a faithful follower of Jesus. His life clearly reflects the way each of us is called to show God’s love to others, especially those in need.

M. Lynne van der Hiel

Detail of a miniature of St Nicholas; from the Melisende Psalter, Jerusalem, 1131-1143, Egerton MS 1139, f. 209r.