|St. Nicholas "Lipensky" (Russian icon from Lipnya Church of St. Nicholas in Novgorod) (Wikipedia)|
Out at sea, a ship battled a raging storm. The crew valiantly fought to keep it afloat. Trunks were being thrown overboard to lighten the load as frightened passengers held onto whatever they could to keep from being swept overboard while others huddled in their cabins. The ravaging waves tore some wood from the sides of the ship.
"Nicholas...NICHOLAS!" someone yelled frantically. It had been noised about that a man named Nicholas, who was known to be a man of God, was on board.
Out of a cabin, in response to the call, came a man with a long white beard. Holding on to the rail of the tossing ship, he began to pray for the storm to cease. As he prayed he lifted his hands heavenward.
Miraculously, the storm calmed. The crippled ship drifted into the harbor of Myra.
The elders of the little church in Myra suddenly stopped in the midst of their intense prayer, opened their eyes and looked around at each other, startled at a message from God that had come to each of them in the form of a vision; they were to appoint as their bishop the first man named Nicholas who would, within the hour, enter the church to pray.
As the leaning ship hobbled into the port and was docked, Nicholas disembarked and made his way into the village to seek a church. He wanted to give thanks to God for His intervention during the storm that could have killed everyone on board.
Finding the church, he eagerly approached it. The heads of the elders turned toward the door as it slowly opened. The stately man with the snow-white beard entered, and, focused on the altar, made his way down to the front and knelt in a prayer of thanksgiving. As he rose to leave the elders approached him. "What is your name?" asked one. "Nicholas." was the reply.
"God has sent you to us to be our new bishop," said another. The group joyfully fitted the surprised Nicholas with a long red priestly robe and miter.
Nicholas quickly became known as, "The Bishop of Miracles," because of so many spectacular answers to his prayers.
Source: Originally titled: SANTA'S (SURPRISING) ORIGINS, By Rev. Austin Miles, A special holiday story for ASSIST News Service