Niagara Gazette

Opinion

December 23, 2013

HIGGS: Open the doors and see all the people

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — I asked for their thoughts on the historical significance of their church and Elizabeth responded. “As I worship in a place, I am always aware of those who have been there before me, and that adds to the serenity and sincerity of my worship. To sing, pray and praise in the oldest church in the city is a blessing and a privilege.” She also noted that while the worship service has become more contemporary, there are still ancient words being said and sung today. “That feeds my soul” she added. The current Pastor is Rev. David W. Crapnell who began his ministry here in 2009. He and his wife Lisa, reside in Niagara Falls.

Churches will be busy at this time of year with special services and celebrations of the birth of Jesus as it is “the reason for the season.” The gift giving part seems to dominate the days leading up to the actual date and probably began with the gifts from the “three kings” in the original religious story. Then along came Saint Nicholas and in particular his reputation as a bringer of gifts.

History.com relates the legend of St. Nicholas that can be traced back hundreds of years. Thought to have been born around 280 A.D. in Myra which is now Turkey, it is believed he gave away all of his inherited wealth, became a monk and helped the poor and the sick. He became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, Dec. 6 which became traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married.

During Renaissance times, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe even after the Protestant Reformation when he maintained a positive reputation especially in Holland. The American Santa Claus, as well as the British Father Christmas derives from these legends. “Santa Claus” is itself derived in part from the Dutch Sinter klaas. Supposedly he made his way to America around the end of the 18th century when a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.

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