He grew up strong in spirit…
A gift for Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age. John the Baptist, who’s candle we light today was a prophet, perhaps the greatest of them all. John encouraged all those who came to hear his message, that the Messiah was coming soon. He used scripture to announce the greatest gift the world would ever receive and they and us needed to get ready.
As we draw ever closer to the strangest Christmas since those during WW2, it will be an opportunity to hold onto the real meaning of what we are doing and why. God did not send his Son to decorate, but to hang upon a tree, taking on himself the sin of the world. God sent his only Son into the world to bring us home. God sent his only Son to reconcile us to him, that we might be saved.
Usually we would be enjoying a Family Toy Service today and so I have prepared a sermon [of sorts] that I hope brings out the child in you. Today we would also have brought Toys to give to local children through Enfield Council. Because it is not possible this year due to the covid virus, we may wish to send a financial gift to The Church of England Children Society instead. And in doing a ‘good deed’ for children I am certain that it would be well received.
Doing a ‘good deed’ holds memories for me of being a Brownie Guide, something many of us shared as children. Here at St Mary’s the tradition has been for our young people to be Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. But whichever organisation they become part of, we are proud of them all, because they are encouraged to think of others in so many different ways.
During the 1950’s as a small child, I was taken with my Polish cousins to celebrate St Nicholas at the Polish Embassy in London. There were biscuits in the shape of St Nicholas and they were decorated in icing with his distinctive colourful Bishop’s robes. We wore Polish national dress, danced along to traditional folk music. And at the end of the evening we were sent home with a present that Nicholas gave us himself. These precious memories have remained with me and they, with my Christian faith, have been at the heart of my giving over the Christmas season ever since. I would like to share with you a poem describing what we know about this Eastern Europian bishop, about his generosity and charity.
A Poem about St Nicholas
Bishop St Nicholas lived far away,
near the Aegean Sea, where Turkey lay.
Travel back with us now to a time long ago.
We will visit his country, and his life we shall know.
We remember this saint, such a holy, good man.
Be like him in charity, do all that you can.
Lots of miracles Nicholas hurried to do.
Helping people in need with gifts that were new.
Sailors tossed in the wind and storms of the sea,
saw a vision of Nicholas who guided them free.
Now patron of sailing, they remember him yet,
lots of paintings and pictures with a fisherman’s net.
Giving money to poor girls, so marry could they.
Made our Nicholas famous, remembered today.
With their gift in hand, soon they were wed.
“God Bless you and keep you” St Nicholas said.
Kid’s patron in Germany, the Netherlands too.
He asks that presents are given to children like you.
Their customs are different: they put out their shoes –
Filling them with toys, his coming’s good news!
Here stockings are hung by the chimney with care,
in hope that St Nicholas soon will come there.
Dressed as Bishop or Santa, he’s one and the same –
Jolly, friendly, good man, we’re glad that he came.
Call him ‘Santa’ or ‘Saint’ they both mean the same,
for his nickname is Claus, short for Nicholas’ name.
Giving gifts was his custom – we still do it today.
Deeds done in Jesus’ name forever will stay.
Bishop Nicholas still is a hero to all.
Christmas Day with lots of others we follow his call,
bringing gifts and some joy to children in need.
We copy Nicholas today and do a good deed.
The Rev'd Maureen Lunn, 13/12/2020