The Festival of St. Nicholas was a time-honored tradition in the 16th century. Luther had to do battle not just with the traditions of the Catholic church, but parents and their children. Why would it matter if the evening of December 5th children left their shoes out? The morning of the 6th St. Nich would bring them nuts and candy! Maybe even a toy or two. The giving of gifts wasn’t the problem – not exactly. The problem was the worship of the saints. The problem was praying to dead people when the only one worthy of our prayer AND the only one who can answer is our God. There is nothing wrong with remembering the life and witness of Christians.
What Luther did was move the focus off of December the 6th and put it back on Christmas. Instead of giving a gift in the name and memory of St. Nicholas, give your loved one a gift in the name of the Christkindl! Thus the focus would shift back onto Jesus – baby Jesus – but still our God. Over the course of five hundred years that tradition too has been corrupted. There is very little left in our society that focuses on Jesus at Christmas. The traditions of giving gifts are good, but sometimes I wonder if that is an end in itself. Organizations like the Advent Conspiracy have attempted to shift the focus away from materialism.
No matter how you celebrate Jesus’ birth this Christmas guard your heart that you do not get swept away into the frenziness of the season. Take time to worship the newborn king. Take a good look at your sin, and then see it removed by your Savior and newborn king.
Please click HERE to view the Bible class slides.