Reflections on the Twelve Days of Christmas

First Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

When I fell in love with my husband, I wanted to know everything about him.

I wanted to hear all the stories from his past, make plans with him for the future, and I had an insatiable curiosity about how he was experiencing the present moment—what he was thinking, feeling, and learning.

The *true love* in the Twelve Days of Christmas is the Lord. Our God also wants to share in my past, future, and present.

He knows my origin story better than anyone—Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

He has my future. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

He wants to live my present with me. He wanted to know my humanity first hand so he took on flesh. Humbling himself so he could know cold and hunger as well as warmth and fullness; sorrow and suffering as well as joy and ease.

Humbling himself, the Son of God was born into the world that I might live every moment with him now and in eternity.

Second Day of Christmas

Two turtle doves!

I’m a 90’s kid. Whenever I hear turtle doves mentioned, I think of the sequel to the iconic Home Alone Christmas movie called Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

There is a touching scene between Kevin, the spunky ten year old who is lost in New York city alone during Christmas, and the owner of the largest toy store in the city, Mr. Duncan.

Mr. Duncan offers Kevin a pair of turtle dove Christmas tree ornaments and explains that the turtle doves are a symbol of true friendship and love. There is truth in this.

Turtle doves are loyal to their mates for multiple mating seasons.The fidelity of turtle doves reminds me of the frequent analogy for the relationship between God and man in the Old Testament.

Typically we read of man’s repeated infidelity to God in contrast to God’s endless fidelity to us. Is this still our story? Are we unfaithful to our faithful God? If this is our story, if you find you have been unfaithful to him, do we look to reconcile with him?

Our God is always looking for us. In his faithfulness he is ALWAYS looking to be united with us, similar to the turtle doves who look for their mates every year.

If you need to reconcile with the Lord, I invite you to take this as your “sign” or call to go to him. He is longing for you.

Third Day of Christmas

The three french hens gifted to us on this day represent the Holy Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Admittedly, I was underwhelmed when I initially sat down to reflect on today’s gift. And then the Holy Spirit hit me upside the head with this recollection.

Christianity is the only Faith in which God is our Father—a good father!

How could I forget that?! I only give talks about this very topic on a regular basis. And I call God my Father daily during prayer. But that is my point here. We’re so familiar with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that we lose sight of how sacred it is and how privileged we are to be able to have personal relationships with them.

When I step back and think of other religions that don’t know the love of the Father, my heart aches for them.

Today in my graditiute, I pray in thanksgiving for knowing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as intimately as I do. I ask to continue growing in these relationships. And I also ask for all those who don’t know the Father’s love—non-Christians and Christians alike—to hear his call and run to him.

Questions for us to evaluate today: How would you rank your intimacy with the Father on a scale of 1-10? What can we do to increase it? 

Fourth Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four calling birds!

Four calling birds that make a joyful noise to the world. The four apostles who spread the gospel—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that is.

In Matthew’s gospel he records Jesus’ command to his disciples, “Go out and make disciples of all nations…” 28:19 This is one of my favorite verses of scripture, of of my “life verses,” if you will.

This command is referred to as, “the Great Commission,” by theologians. The reason it is great is because it is a charge that is given to all Christians. For, we are all disciples of Christ—we have discipled ourselves to live according to Jesus’ teaching. And we have all been called to spread the gospel by our witness and our words.

Question for the day: Do we sing a joyful noise to the world about the love of the Lord?

During these grace-filled days of Christmas, ask the Lord to increase your desire and will to be a faithful disciple of Christ and to spread his good news of freedom, peace, love, mercy, forgiveness, and life. (<— Just to name a few.)

Fifth Day of Christmas

Five golden rings? I know I’m not alone in mischievously thinking, “There is only one. One ring to rule them all!” —The Lord of the Rings

The five golden rings represent the first five books of the Bible–Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These first five books are called the Pentatuch in Hebrew and are referred to as “the law.”

They recall all the instructions Moses received from the Lord. These laws kept the people of Israel in right relationship with the Lord. 

When St. Paul says, we are no longer under the law but under grace (Rom 6:15), he’s saying the spiritual training wheels given to the Israelites in the form of the law have been removed and we’ve been given grace to live in our spiritual maturity.

Question for today: Have we taken authority over the spiritual maturity we’ve been called to? How can we better live in the grace we’ve been given to have a thriving spiritual relationship with the Lord? 

Sixth Day of Christmas

“Gooses. Geeses. I want a goose to lay gold eggs for Easter!”—Veruca Salt, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Sorry Veruca, darling, these six geese are laying eggs for the sixth day of Christmas as a reminder of the six days of creation.

The thing about creation that I awe over most is not how God took the formless void and separated it into the earth and the heavens, or how the sun and moon were made to govern the day and night.

It was that the Lord wanted Adam to participate in his act of creation. First by naming everything and then together with Eve they were asked to be fruitful and multiply.

We have been made in God’s image and likeness—we have been made to create, co-create. Be it something as miraculous as another human life or as simple and everyday as a cup of coffee and pancakes. We are co-creating with the author of life himself. This is a prayer in itself. 

Question for today: How often do we stop and notice that we are co-creating with God?

Seventh Day of Christmas

Those graceful beautiful swans given on the seventh day of Christmas represent the seven grace-filled gifts of the Holy Spirit—Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

How fitting is it that the seventh day of Christmas is always New Years Eve. New Years Eve, that day we are setting resolutions to improve and better ourselves and lives in the new year.

It’s impossible for me to ignore this divine-wink suggesting that I cultivate these gifts in the new year.

Questions for today: Are any of your resolutions related to any of these gifts of the Holy Spirit? If you don’t make resolutions, for whatever reason, would you change your mind and answer God’s *divine-wink* this year? Which do you feel called to adopt this year?

Eighth Day of Christmas

Today’s eight maids-a-milking have reminded me how much I have always wanted to milk a cow. I know—it’s weird, but it’s on my bucket list. 

Interesting fact: Before the invention of the smallpox vaccine, one of the fringe benefits of working as a milkmaid was a life-saving natural vaccine which came in the form of cowpox.

When I think of the eight beatitudes represented by the eight maids-a-milking, I’m reminded of this random fact.

The beatitudes are blessings bestowed by God on those who live out specific characteristics. These spiritual attributes perfectly represent the Messianic kingdom; and are therefore diametrically opposed to the world in which Jesus lived, and ours. 

Just like milkmaids received an unforeseen life-saving benefit from their work, those of us who work to live out the beatitudes receive the promised eternal life-saving benefit of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Question for today: Can we live out the Kingdom of Heaven without practicing the beatitudes—the spiritual characteristics of the Messianic Kingdom? What steps are we taking to adopt the *beatitude way of life*?

Ninth Day of Christmas

J.M. Barrie’s, Peter Pan  is one of my favorite books.

One of the best lines is when Peter explains the origin of fairies. I also think it happens to perfectly encapsulate how the nine ladies dancing in the Twelve Days of Christmas represent the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.

See for yourself. 

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”

This is how I imagine the gifts of the Holy Spirit—the love between the Father and Son bursting out into the world, dancing and skipping about through our actions as we grow in holiness. 

Question for today: Do you let the gifts of the Holy Spirit run loose in your life—ie. prompt your actions? Or do you hamper them, self-conscience they will make you look out of place or foolish?

Tenth Day of Christmas

Have you ever seen ten lords-a-leaping? I have. Frequently, in fact.

Growing up I was a competitive Irish dancer. A good one, I might add—ranking sixth in the U.S. western reigion and qualifying to compete at World’s.

In Irish dance there is a lot of leaping. But without constant training, precision, and dedication to the pursuit of perfection, one will end up looking spaztic—especially men.

The Ten Commandments, which are represented by the ten lords-a-leaping, are man’s constant training and dedication to the pursuit of perfection. They were *the rule* for the Jewish people to live in right relationship with God.

We strive in leaps and bounds to live according to the law set out by God—the law of the Spirit which is the maturation of the law of Moses.

Question for today: Do we strive to grow in relationship with the Lord through the Spirit? Or do we settle for following the old law of “do’s” and “don’ts”?

Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas, we’re reminded of the eleven faithful apostles. Though they didn’t fully understand the revelation of Christ during his life, they were faithful to him.

After receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, their life’s work was to preach and defend the message of Christ. 

As we read in the first letter of Peter, “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” 

The eleven pipers piping portray hope—a hope that resounds and uplifts and quite literally “pipes up.”

The example set by the apostles is just that: Pipe up. By both emitting a hopeful song with your life and speaking the life-giving message of the Cross with charity. 

Question for today: Are you properly equipped to pipe up, with both knowledge and a spirit of gentleness, when asked about the Faith?

Days 12 to come. Check back each day!

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