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Jolly Old "Slap" Nicholas?

  • 2009 Dec 21

In their tune "Little Saint Nick" the Beach Boys let us know this incredibly helpful piece of information.

Christmas comes this time each year!

(To be faithful to the original text I will show it in context)

It's the little Saint Nick
Ooooo, little Saint Nick
It's the little Saint Nick
Ooooo, little Saint Nick

Merry Christmas Saint Nick
Christmas comes this time each year!

So if the Christmas holiday has been sneaking up on you year after year perhaps you have not picked up on this amazing bit of insight from the Beach Boys. Christmas comes this time each year! Google it.

The Beach Boys were talking about a holiday hot rod called the little Saint Nick and not the historical man known as Saint Nicholas. The real Saint Nick was an interesting character who possessed a bit of a temper. In fact, he acquired another nickname. "Slap Nick".

First, a little background on the "saint" side of the story. The fourth-century Bishop of Myra (present day Turkey) was the role model for our present day Santa Clause. Saint Nicholas is said to have saved a poor family's daughters from slavery by tossing some gold through the window that landed, according to legend, in stockings that had been hung up to dry. From that trick shot came the custom of hanging up stockings for St.Nicholas (and now Santa Clause) to fill.

But what about his other nickname? It seems that old Saint Nick was jolly and generous to children but he was a little feisty about his beliefs. Gene Edward Veith wrote this in World Magazine.

He (Saint Nicholas) was a delegate to the Council of Nicea in AD 325, which battled the heretics who denied the deity of Christ. He was thus one of the authors of the Nicene Creed, which affirms that Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. And unlike his later manifestation, Nicholas was particularly zealous in standing up for Christ. During the Council of Nicea, jolly old St. Nicholas got so fed up with Arius who taught that Jesus was just a man, that he walked up and slapped him! That unbishoplike behavior got him in trouble. The council almost stripped him of his office, but Nicholas said he was sorry, so he was forgiven.

The point is, the original Santa Claus was someone who flew off the handle when he heard someone minimizing Christ. Perhaps we can battle our culture's increasingly Christ-less Christmas by enlisting Santa in his original cause. The poor girls' stockings have become part of our Christmas imagery. So should the St. Nicholas slap.

Trust me when I tell you that Mr.Veith is not advocating violence. Maybe just a little gentle love tap to intolerant noggins. If this catches on we could new Christmas classics like "I Saw Momma Slappin' Heretics" or "Jingle Bell Slap". Bing Crosby's classic tune takes on a whole new tone.

Slappy Holiday, Slappy Holiday
While your ears may keep ringin'
My you now know what to do.

I was raised in legalism. I finally discovered the liberating power of the truths of grace and identity in Christ. After nearly dying of spiritual thirst from legalism I can certainly understand the desire to "slap" those who fence in followers of Jesus with man made restrictions and those who deny His divinity. But that would deny the grace I have experienced. I can only pray that those who refuse to offer grace will soon experience the freedom and joy in Christ that is waiting to be opened. Paul had a great idea for a relationship stocking stuffer this Christmas.

If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. (Galatians 6, The Message)

The Council forgave Saint Nick for his frustrated slap. Perhaps there is someone you can forgive this season. What a gift that would be for an aching soul this Christmas.

 I pray that you have a blessed and very Merry Christmas.


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