“God gives us gifts every day”: Bishop Mykola Bychok said during his sermon on St. Nicholas day

December 19, 2022, 17:32 7

On Sunday, 18 December, the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. The celebration began with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for children, which was led by Bishop Mykola Bychok, Eparch of Melbourne, with Fr. Peter Struk, deacons Edward Kostraby and Myroslav Vons, the altar servers and numerous faithful.

“God gives us gifts every day”: Bishop Mykola Bychok said during his sermon on St. Nicholas day

In his sermon, the bishop shared with the children and all the faithful happy memories from his childhood: “When I was a child and 7 years old, every year on the day of St. Nicholas I was always wondering what gifts I would receive next year. On this feast at 10 pm I was waiting for Saint Nicholas to come, thinking it would be wonderful to meet him. So, I waited for several hours until 1 am and then fell asleep, so I never saw him. However, in the morning I always found presents or something under the pillow or next to the bed. The next year I tried to do the same, but I waited until 2 pm — and, in the end, fell asleep anyway, because I was a child, but I always got presents in the morning. These are very warm memories, because St. Nicholas was always generous to me. I’m sure you feel the same too.”

Bishop Mykola then told the children a short story about the life of this famous Wonderworker: “Saint Nicholas was born in the third century in modern Turkey. He was the bishop of Myra in Lycia. One day he received a large inheritance from his parents and became rich. However, the saint shared his wealth with others. In Ukraine, especially in the West, there is a tradition of giving gifts on the day of St. Nicholas, because that is what he did. We receive gifts not during the day, but at night, because St. Nicholas worked at night, giving gifts according to the needs of others.”

Then the bishop assured the children that after the Divine Liturgy Saint Nicholas would visit them with gifts. Continuing his sermon in the context of the figure of St. Nicholas and gifts, the bishop addressed all the faithful: “Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very important for us that today we remember St. Nicholas. On this feast, each of us wants to receive something: attention, warmth, a kind word or even more — gifts. And if we are adults, it does not mean that we do not wait for gifts, on the contrary. That is why on various occasions, not only St. Nicholas, New Year or Christmas, but in particular, when we celebrate a birthday or an Angel’s day, we give or receive gifts in order to bring joy to this or that person.”

The Eparch of Melbourne noted that joy is more important, especially at Christmas time: “Christmas is a symbol of joy. At Christmas, we celebrate the new-born Child: we rejoice, we congratulate each other, we sing carols, we do this in order to increase joy. However, I want to draw your attention to the fact that God gives us gifts every day. Today’s sunny weather, which is rare in Melbourne, is also a gift from God.”

The bishop assured that a person who believes in God every day can see not only one gift, but even several: not only sunny weather or a good rest, but a meeting with other people. And he emphasized: “We should live so that our life becomes a gift: to bring joy to the lives of other people, to support them in times of difficulty, to help them in various needs. Then we become a gift. I sincerely encourage you, especially the children, who will receive gifts today, to remember these words: may every day be a gift to each other. Amen!”

After the Divine Liturgy, the children were visited by St. Nicholas who gave generous gifts. Children who recently arrived from Ukraine especially received gifts. Children greeted the welcome guest with joyful songs, thanking him for his generosity. Then in the parish hall of Patriarch Yosyf Slipyj at the Christmas bazaar, one could buy various types of foods, such as wheat and poppyseed and various themed souvenirs.

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