Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.
Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Read: Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 107:33-43, Hebrews 13:16-21, and Luke 10:1-9
Advent is the time when Christians prepare to greet Christ – who came as a babe in a manger, who comes into our lives each day, and who will come again at the end of time. Advent is the time when people of faith are most at odds with the culture. The church calls people to focus on getting ready to receive Christ – preparing hearts and lives to make room for Jesus, to live as he would have us live. It is a time of longing, not fulfillment. Quiet reflection, not celebration. The culture, however, is already in a time of festivity, unable or unwilling to wait and contemplate and prepare for the real festival. It is not easy to observe Advent without being pulled prematurely into Christmas.
How does St. Nicholas fit into all of this? He is an Advent saint because his December 6th feast day always falls in early Advent. However, Nicholas is a good Advent saint for more important reasons than the date of his special day. Whatever he did, and it is said that he did many kinds of amazing things, may not be as important as the way he did it. Nicholas became so popular because he was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. His life clearly reflected the way each one of us is called to show God's love to others, especially those in need.
Celebrating St. Nicholas on his day in Advent brings a bit of fun and festivity into homes, churches, and schools. His small treats and surprises help keep the spirit of good St. Nicholas, especially when stories of his goodness and kind deeds are told and ways to express his care for those in need are sought. Saint Nicholas helps us remember Christmas is a feast of love, hope, kindness and generosity. Yes, Nicholas is a good Advent saint.
Learn about St Nicholas on the internet or at your local library. Ask God to show you how you can live like Nicholas did. You may find the following prayer helpful:
Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servant Nicholas, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at last we may with him attain to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.