December 1, 2015

St. Nicholas: Goody2Shoes

The Feast of St. Nicholas is a wonderful way for families and congregations to explore and understand the great tradition behind the commercialized Santa Claus. A bishop of Myra (what is now Turkey), Saint Nicholas is remembered as a grace-filled, faithful, and generous man. Perhaps he was jolly too, but more importantly he lived out his faith in big and small ways. He was not only imprisoned for his faith, but he also participated in the councils of the church, including the gathering that developed the Nicene Creed, which we still say today.

Numerous legends surround St. Nicholas. In one story, he provides bags of gold (or gold balls) for the dowries of three poor daughters. According to custom, Nicholas heaved the bags through an open window, where they landed in shoes. This led to the custom of hanging stockings or in some places, leaving out shoes for gifts on St. Nicholas night. Often oranges are given as a symbol of the gold balls.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Dayton, Ohio, is hosting a particularly engaging event for the celebration of St. Nicholas – one that both is playful and joyful (even jolly!) but also lives into the generous spirit of the saint.

Their event, cleverly called Goody2Shoes, invites the community to bring shoes to the front steps of the church on the morning of December 5. (Folks are encouraged to add a note with their names to the shoes.) Overnight, St. Nick will fill the shoes with sweets and gifts. On Sunday, December 6, the feast day of St. Nicholas, participants can return to the church in the morning to pick up their goodies.

But there’s a twist! 

The shoes (and any socks) will be donated to people in need through two local charities, including the Dayton Episcopal Clothing Room. As their website says, “Donation of multiple pairs of shoes and socks are heartily welcomed.”

Perhaps your church (or family) might consider honoring St. Nick by being (and participating in) Goody2Shoes—and experiencing one of the wonders of the season: joyful giving and graceful receiving. 

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