Historically I understand why Protestants don't do saints, but I think that is a mistake. And while I am a total Prod when it comes to ecclesiology, I think most of my predecessors in the Reformation were waaaay too adolescent in their actions. Not only did they throw too many babies out with the bath water, but they were arrogant enough to think that they could some how or another reclaim the essence of "true" Biblical worship. As Charlie Brown might say at this time of year, "Oh good grief!:
Well, that's enough rant for today because it is St. Nicholas Day - patron saints of all children - and I love this day! In a great compendium of modern saints and prophets, All Saints by Robert Ellsberg, the month of December starts with a consideration of Charles de Foucauld - one of my favorites - as well as Clement of Alexandria and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Check out the Spirituality and Practice review of this book @ http://www.spirituality andpractice. com/books/books.php?id=781
For about 20 years I've been loving St. Nicholas andthe insights born of Gertrud Mueller Nelson in To Dance with God were life changing for me. She is a brilliant interpreter who draws from "her vast experience and expertise in the history, psychology, and spirituality of ritual in general and Christian ritual in particular... to show parents, friends, and ministers of children... how we might move beyond superficial piety toward developing formational rhythms and rituals in the home that connect us to the meaning and flow of life." She treats Nicholas not only as the ancient source and archetype of our contemporary Santa Claus, but also reflects on why our culture NEEDS Santa Claus! And it has nothing to do with advancing the cause of consumerism, of course, and everything to do with going deeper into acts of compassion and celebration.
Well does Nicholas deserve to be the patron of children, and well might they delight in his name. But he might also be remembered not only as the joylly source of toys and treasts, but also as the protector of those whose lives and innocence remain threatened today, as they were in the time of St. Nicholas, by violence, poverty and exploitation.
I think of the important work St. Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times does - a living tribute to his name's sake. Check him out @ http://topics.nytimes.com/top/ opinion/editorials and oped/oped/columnists/nicholasdkristof/index.html