Before Santa Claus became “Santa”, he was Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was a real person, and a bishop a long time ago. A bishop is like a pastor, but instead of relating only to one congregation as a pastor does, a bishop relates to many congregations—and many people covering a large area.
Saint Nicholas indeed cared for many people in the part of the world known today as the country of Turkey. As a Christian he was very active in his faith by helping people who were poor, giving gifts and money to those who needed food, and rescued people who were in prison. In short, he helped people who were in trouble. All his life Saint Nicholas showed people how to love God and care for each other.
You could say he was “God’s Agent”. Yes, many of the things he did to help people he did them in secret. He didn’t want to draw attention to himself, because it was the kindness that he showed that was the important thing.
But he wasn’t God’s agent in the sense of being like a spy from the movies. Spies will sometimes deceive and trick people on purpose. No, Saint Nicholas was God’s Agent in the sense of doing things out of faithfulness to God, being active to do God’s will and show God’s love to all people. Even if he had to take some risks.
And that’s what we are all called to do as well. Like Saint Nicholas, we too are God’s Agents of love for other people. This Christmas I pray we can all find little ways, and maybe some big ways, to be God’s Agents, and like Saint Nicholas show God’s love for all people.
There are many stories about Saint Nicholas. I would like to read you one of them about a special animal—the Pine Marten—who was Saint Nicholas’ good friend; and, who helped him on a very special mission as “God’s Agent” …
Invite the children to sit with you gathered around the Christmas Tree.
Read Terri Reinhart, illustrated by Patrick Reinhart, “The Fiercest Little Animal in The Forest” (Colorado: St Patrick’s Press, 2nd Printing, 2019).
Let us pray:
God of joy and cheer,
we thank you for your servant,
the good bishop Nicholas.
In loving the poor,
he showed us your kindness;
in caring for your children,
he revealed your love.
Make us thoughtful
without need of reward
so that we, too, may be good followers of Jesus. Amen.
At the end, hand out a Saint Nicholas treat to each child …
 traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 343 A.D.
 B. Batchelder, illustrated by Barbara Knutson, All Through the Day, All Through the Year: Family Prayers and Celebrations (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2000).