St. Nicholas' Day (06 December)
The church addressed in Ephesians was, as seemed true of so many of the early churches, a divided church, where ideas and fancies and styles set one bunch of believers off against another. Each would work for their own and themselves, not really caring whether the other brothers and sisters benefit -- or even worse, hoping for their defeat.
However, that is not Christ's way. Christ gave Himself -- all of himself. But even that was not enough for Christ. Christ put captivity itself into captivity, opened up the warehouse, and started giving it all away. But not just for the sheer joy of giving itself. It was giving with a purpose, an investment in our growth and maturity as persons and as a people. Then, the Master made the master stroke: He called on us to do the same.
St. Nicholas of Myra (modern-day Demre, Turkey) was one of the key bishops at the Council of Nicaea, and one of the staunchest opponents to Arius' heresy. Nicholas was from a very wealthy family, yet he became renown in his own era for his generous heart. In one of many famous incidents, he gave so that a poor man's daughters would not be forced into prostitution by lack of a dowry for marriage. It was a rather sharp turning point for their lives, sharply rising up when it seemed for all the world that their lives would sharply turn downward. (Unfortunately, women all over the world are still being trafficked and sold for sex, forced marriage, and servitude.) This was just one of many times he gave of himself in a lifetime full of giving. St. Nicholas' concern for orphans is a beacon to us today, in an era that does a poor job of loving refugee orphans. (St. Nicholas himself was orphaned at a young age, when a plague killed both his parents. Soon his uncle Nicholas, Bishop of Patara, would take him in.)
The gifts God gave us, material and spiritual, are not meant for us to hoard, but to spend, even just to give away. Christ invested in us, to build us up, and we live off the interest. The Christian call, as St. Nicholas and many others over the years full well understood, is to do for others as Christ did for us.
Great Giving God, we aren't able to match Christ's gift. But the bag of Your presents is stuffed to overflowing. Help us to give to others from what you have given us. And lead us to bring an end to human trafficking and abandonment of orphans in our own time. Amen.
Oh, I almost forgot.... Ho! Ho! Ho! (You don't really need a special day, or even a season, to Ho! all year long!)