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Posts Tagged ‘charity’

Born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1207, Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II and his wife Gertrude. Given as a bride in an arranged political marriage, Elizabeth became the wife of Louis of Thuringia in Germany at the age of 14. She had a spirit of Christian generosity and charity, and the home she established for her husband and three children in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach was known for its hospitality and family love. Elizabeth often supervised the care of the sick and needy and even gave up her bed to a leper at one time. Widowed at the age of 20, she made provisions for her children and entered into an austere life as a nun in the Order of Saint Francis. Her self-denial led to failing health and an early death in 1231 at the age of 24. Remembered for her self-sacrificing ways, Elizabeth is commemorated through the many hospitals named for her around the world. (bio and quote below from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  The following quote from Luther.  Two comments:  what Luther writes here, he and his wife Katie lived.  They always had house guests at table:  priests seeking asylum, friends, poor university students and the like.  This was to the point that the budget was stretched.  Also:  in the Rule of St. Benedict, when a monk greeted a stranger at the door, he was to fall prostrate in front of the guest, because a stranger is Christ:  

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” (St. Matthew 25: 35)

Jesus came as a guest to His own house and He was not received, 

O you hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? (Jeremiah 14: 8)

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest…abide with us:

This is … an outstanding praise of hospitality, in order that we may be sure that God Himself is in our home, is being fed at our house, is lying down and resting as often as some pious brother in exile because of the Gospel comes to us and is received hospitably by us. This is called brotherly love or Christian charity; it is greater than that general kindness which is extended even to strangers and enemies when they are in need of our aid…. For the accounts of the friendships of the Gentiles, like those of Theseus and Hercules, of Pylades and Orestes, are nothing in comparison with the brotherhood in the church; its bond is an association with God so close that the Son of God says that whatever is done to the least of His is done to Himself. Therefore their hearts go out without hypocrisy to the needs of their neighbor, and nothing is either so costly or so difficult that a Christian does not undertake it for the sake of the brethren, … But if anyone earnestly believed that he is receiving the Lord Himself when he receives a poor brother, there would be no need for such anxious, zealous, and solicitous exhortations to do works of love. Our coffers, storeroom, and compassion would be open at once for the benefit of the brethren. There would be no ill will, and together with godly Abraham we would run to meet the wretched people, invite them into our homes, and seize upon this honor and distinction ahead of others and say: “O Lord Jesus, come to me; enjoy my bread, wine, silver, and gold. How well it has been invested by me when I invest it in You!” (Luther)

Mighty King, whose inheritance is not of this world, inspire in us the humility and benevolent charity of Elizabeth of Hungary.  She scorned her bejeweled crown with thoughts of the horned one her savior donned for her said and ours, that we too, might live a live of sacrifice, pleasing in Your sight and worthy of the Name of Your Son, Christ Jesus, who with the Holy Spirit reigns with You forever in the everlasting kingdom. Amen.

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Intro:  Below is a funny, tongue-in-cheek, look at the real St. Nicholas, the basis of ‘Santa Claus’.  I pasted it from Cyberbrethren (see links on right) and the article is from  World Magazine, see end of article.  The article  is by Dr. Veith, a lay theologian who was an evangelical but is now a Lutheran in the LCMS.  He has written much and his story of his change of churches is worth buying and reading: The Spirituality of the Cross @Amazon

My own reflection on saints in general:  I think we tend to look at the known saints as “heroes of the Faith” and yes, they are, but as heroes acting alone and contending bravely against the world, the flesh and the devil for the sake of Lord and His Word.  Sometimes they did or felt they were utterly alone, as in the case of Elijah the prophet: after he confronted the false prophets of the idol Baal on Mt. Carmel, he heard that Queen Jezebel was out to kill him and so he fled.  He soon felt very alone, and yet he was not:  see   1 Kings 18.   For the most part, the known saints were not loners:  the Lord baptized them into Himself, His Body, the Church.  Nicholas in his works of charity was not acting alone but in concert with his congregation as their pastor:  see 1 Corinthians 1:1-3.  I hope you enjoy the article: 

Today is the day we commemorate and remember Nicholas of Myra, aka, St. Nick, aka Santa Claus. 

Today is the day in the church year when we remember and commemorate St. Nicholas. You have to love the old guy, as opposed to that jolly old elf impersonating him these days. Dr. Gene Edward Veith reminds us of the sturdy stuff of which our dear Saint Nicholas was made, when he slapped Arius around for heresy. If you are interested in a really great book that tells the true Christian story of St. Nicholas, here it is. Dr. Veith’s story is below.

Known for his generosity and his love of children, Nicholas is said to have saved a poor family’s daughters from slavery by tossing into their window enough gold for a rich dowry, a present that landed in some shoes or, in some accounts, stockings that were hung up to dry. Thus arose the custom of hanging up stockings for St. Nicholas to fill. And somehow he transmogrified into Santa Claus, who has become for many people the secular Christmas alternative to Jesus Christ.

But there is more to the story of Nicholas of Myra. He was also a delegate to the Council of Nicea in a.d. 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.
Not a violent hit of the kind that got the good bishop in trouble, just a gentle, admonitory tap on the cheek. This should be reserved not for out-and-out nonbelievers, but for heretics (that is, people in the church who deny its teachings), Christians who forget about Jesus, and people who try to take Christ out of Christmas.
This will take a little tweaking of the mythology. Santa and his elves live at the North Pole where they compile a list of who is naughty, who is nice, and who is Nicean.

On Christmas Eve, flying reindeer pull his sleigh full of gifts. And after he comes down the chimney, he will steal into the rooms of people dreaming of sugarplums who think they can do without Christ and slap them awake.
And we’ll need new songs and TV specials (“Santa Claus Is Coming to Slap,” “Deck the Apollinarian with Bats of Holly,” “Frosty the Gnostic,” “How the Arian Stole Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red Knows Jesus”).
Department store Santas should ask the children on their laps if they have been good, what they want for Christmas, and whether they understand the Two Natures of Christ. The Santas should also roam the shopping aisles, and if they hear any clerks wish their customers a mere “Happy Holiday,” give them a slap.
This addition to his job description will keep Santa busy. Teachers who forbid the singing of religious Christmas carols—SLAP! Office managers who erect Holiday Trees—SLAP! Judges who outlaw manger displays—SLAP! People who give The Da Vinci Code as a Christmas present—SLAP! Ministers who cancel Sunday church services that fall on Christmas day—SLAP! SLAP!
Perhaps Santa Claus in his original role as a theological enforcer may not go over very well in our contemporary culture. People may then try to take both Christ and Santa Claus out of Christmas. And with that economic heresy, the retailers would start to do the slapping.

Source: WORLD Magazine
December 24, 2005, Vol. 20, No. 50

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