It was a meeting only God could’ve coordinated.
In my research for my blog post Heading off a Christmas Coup: Four Ways to Keep Christmas Focused on Christ, I searched the internet for articles about St. Nicholas, the real-life inspiration behind Santa Clause.
Google suggested the book St. Nicholas: The Believer: A New Story For Christmas Based On The Old Story Of St. Nicholas.
The author, Eric Elder, compelled me to hit the Buy button when I read his foreword.
When UPS dropped the book off on my doorstep two days later, I dove into it. Party plans and Christmas decorations forced me to put it down against my will.
Later, my husband and I attended my niece’s ballet performance. As I waited for my husband to park our car, I noticed a book table that contained one book.
My book. Or actually, Eric Elder’s book.
I pointed and exclaimed, “Hey! I just bought that book!”
The lady behind the table nodded to the man standing beside her and said, “He’s the author.”
The smiling author said, “The ballet is based on my book.”
“It is?” I said.
His eyes broadcast his surprise. “You didn’t know that?”
I shrugged and shook my head.
He laughed and asked, “Who do you have performing today?”
I laughed, too, certain I probably appeared to be a pathetic mom, utterly unaware of her own child’s activities.
“I came to watch my niece. My sister told me the ballet was based on a book and the author would be here, but she didn’t tell me the name of the book.”
I told him of my blog post about Christmas.
He told me how he came to write the book and how the South Carolina Christian Dance Theater asked if they could base their Christmas performance “One Life” on his book.
And now we’re best friends.
Ok, we’re not best friends, but we had a fabulous conversation and took pictures together.
(By the way, the ballet interpretation of his book was beautiful — especially my niece.)
St. Nicholas Comes to Life and Inspires
Eric Elder brings St. Nicholas to life through a retelling of God’s work in the ancient bishop’s life starting from his childhood.
Nicholas learned much from the sacrificial example of his mother and father’s generosity to people in need out of their love for Christ.
He now teaches us about Jesus’ love and how to share it through his own sacrificial — and secretive — giving.
“Nicholas had one life to live, but if he lived it right, one life was all he would need.”
As Elder reveals, one life was indeed all Nicholas needed.
The story of St. Nicholas’ life will encourage you to rethink how you live your life and inspire you to celebrate Christmas with greater joy.
Check out the forward to The Believer and then buy your own copy today:
Foreword: St. Nicholas: The Believer: A New Story For Christmas Based On The Old Story Of St. Nicholas by Eric Elder
There was a time when I almost gave up celebrating Christmas.
Our kids were still young and weren’t yet hooked on the idea of Santa Claus and presents, Christmas trees and decorations.
I had read that the Puritans who first came to America were so zealous in their faith that they didn’t celebrate Christmas at all.
Instead, they charged fines to businesses in their community who failed to keep their shops open on Christmas day. They didn’t want anything to do with a holiday that was, they felt, rooted in paganism.
As a new believer and a new father myself, the idea of going against the flow of the excesses of Christmas had its appeal, at least in some respects.
Then I read an article by a man who simply loved celebrating Christmas. He could think of no greater way to celebrate the birth of the most important figure in human history than throwing the grandest of parties for Him—gathering and feasting and sharing gifts with as many of his family and friends as possible.
This man was a pastor of deep faith and great joy.
For him, the joy of Christ’s birth was so wondrous that he reveled in every aspect of Christmas, including all the planning, decorating and activities that went along with it.
He even loved bringing Santa Claus into the festivities, our modern-day version of the very real and very ancient Saint Nicholas, a man of deep faith and great joy as well who Himself worshipped and adored the Baby who was born in Bethlehem.
So why not celebrate the birth of Christ?
Why not make it the biggest party of the year?
Why not make it the “Hap-Happiest season of all”?
I was sold.
Christmas could stay—and my kids would be much hap-happier for it, too.
I dove back into celebrating Christmas with full vigor, and at the same time took a closer look into the life of the real Saint Nicholas, a man who seemed almost irremovably intertwined with this Holy Day.
I discovered that Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus were indeed one and the same and that the Saint Nicholas who lived in the 3rd and 4th centuries after the birth of Christ was truly a devout follower of Christ himself.
As my wife and I read more and more about Nicholas’ fascinating story, we became enthralled with this believer who had already been capturing the hearts and imaginations of believers and nonbelievers alike throughout the centuries.
With so many books and movies that go to great lengths to tell you the “true” story of Santa Claus (and how his reindeer are really powered by everything from eggnog to Coca-Cola), I’ve found that there are very few stories that even come close to describing the actual person of who Saint Nicholas was, and in particular, what he thought about the Man for whom Christmas is named, Jesus Christ.
I was surprised to learn that with all the historical documents that attest to Saint Nicholas’ faith in Christ, compelling tellings of those stories seem to have fallen by the wayside over the ages.
So with the encouragement and help of my sweet wife, Lana, we decided to bring the story of Saint Nicholas back to life for you, with a desire to help you recapture the essence of Christmas for yourself.
While some people, with good reason, may still go to great lengths to try to remove anything that might possibly hint of secularism from this holiest day of the year, it seems to me equally fitting to go to great lengths to try to restore Santa to his rightful place—not as the patron saint of shopping malls, but as a beacon of light that shines brightly on the One for whom this Holy Day is named.
It is with deep faith and great joy that I offer you this Christmas novella—a little story.
I’ve enjoyed telling it and I hope you’ll enjoy hearing it.
It just may be the most human telling of the story of Saint Nicholas you’ve ever heard.
Above all, I pray that God will use this story to rekindle your love, not only for this season of the year but for the One who makes this season so bright.
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