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Days 6 & 7 of the 12 Days of Christmas

The weekend is upon us...and thus, 2012.  Happy New Year to you all.
I spent the day launching my daughter, Lindsay, her husband Pete, and my twin grandchildren, Raewyn and Theo as they are flying back to England - their home.  It's been a bit sad to say goodbye and yet we have some really good memories and stories from their vacation back home here.

This weekend is days 6 & 7 of the 12 days of Christmas.
The 12 days are thought to begin on Christmas day and end on the fift or sixth of January - the day of Epiphany, which is the celebration of the appearance of the wise men and their gifts to Jesus.
On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me,
six geese-a-laying...

In England, where the song originated, a goose was a traditional Christmas meal.  I made one once, and because it was a wild goose it was given a thumbs down by my family.  Yet Geese were important because they were domesticated so that not only did they lay eggs to provide a constant source of food, but …

Day 5 - Golden Rings??

The 12 days of Christmas occur between Christmas Day and Jan. 6 - Epiphany - the event that commemorates the visit of the wise men (Magi) and the gifts they gave Jesus.
On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A Partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day - two turtledoves
On the third day - three french hens
On the fourth day - four colly birds (see yesterday's blog)
And now today...
On the fifth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me,
Five Gold Rings!  


Finally something other than a bird! Right?
Unfortunately No, it's still a bird.
The writer/composer had in mind the ring necked pheasant that was highly prized for both it's beauty and taste!

The song is usually sung as "five golden rings" instead of the correct words:  "five gold rings"


So, what did they have in mind that this was to represent for children to learn?
The Five Gold Rings represent the Pentateuch - the first five books of the Bible, the books of Moses - which serve as a record of G…

12 days of Christmas - Day 4

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
four calling birds,
three french hens,
two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.
,

2 Timothy 3:10, 14-17 (NIV)
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,...
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,
15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 



The song "The Twelve days of Christmas" employs symbols that help children remember the various aspects of their faith.  Over the last three days I mentioned the three french hens as the essentials of faith, hope and love;  two turtledoves as the two cove…

12 Days of Christmas - Day 3

The 12 days of Christmas serve as a type of "veiled Catechism" during a time of religious persecution.  The song we sing is full of symbols.
Today we're looking at Three French Hens.

On the third day of Christmas My true love gave to me Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. We already noted that the True Love is God. The Partridge is Jesus because of his willingness to be a sacrifice. The two turtle doves represent the covenants of the Old and the New Testaments NOW...a Partridge in a pear tree? The key is the three part of the French Hens.   It represents the virtues of the Gospel:  Faith, Hope and Love.
Faith is the "substance", the real thing so to speak, of what we believe. Hope sustains us in times when things don't seem well. Love is the crowning of all virtues and when first applied to our relationship to God, it should spill over into our relationship with all others.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (NRSV)
4 Love is patient; love is k…

Day two of the 12 Days of Christmas

Luke 2:21-24 (NLT)
21 Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
22 Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
23 The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the LORD.”
24 So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons {doves}.” 


I've been reading the 19th century English pastor and theologian, J.C. Ryle and his expository notes on the Gospel of Luke.  As I preach my way through this Gospel I find some of these older works to be of invaluable worth in my own thinking, meditating, even praying through scripture.

Ryle makes the point that Mary and Joseph's sacrifice was the act of a poor couple.  Leviticus had prescribed an animal sacrifice for a circumcisi…

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 1

1 Peter 3:18 (NIV)
18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,

Depending upon where you live, this is either the first day of shopping sales and returning presents, or, it is the beginning of a new series of celebration days.  Of course, to my English friends today is "Boxing Day" - a day that has it's traditions in Victorian England when the servants and their families received gifts (presumably in the boxes) because they would have had to serve their master's families on Christmas day.

For me, today is the first day of the 12 days of Christmas.  Made famous by the Christmas song of the same name, it has a tradition that goes back approximately 500 years.  Since most of us are not part of liturgical churches little of this is known, or adhered to.

These 12 days occur between Christmas and January 6th - which is Epiphany.  Epiphany is from the Greek wo…

Christmas Peace

Christmas Peace! Luke 19:38 (NIV)
38 "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

Acts 10:34-36 (NIV)
34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism
35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Romans 5:1 (NIV)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ephesians 2:14 (NIV)
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

Christmas is a message of Peace between God and Mankind.  "God so loved the world..." and it's because of Jesus' birth that peace between God and Mankind can occur.  Also, it's because of Jesus that we can have peace between each o…

Christmas Eve

As I write this, Christmas Eve has begun.  But, like so many people around the world the beginning is actually on the evening of the day.  Tonight we will gather in simplicity - hymns and carols of Christmas.  We'll tell the story all over again in scripture and song.  It never tires me to hear it anew.
When Zechariah and Elizabeth birthed John, who was to be the forerunner of Jesus - 30 years down the road - Zechariah's tongue was loosened and he spoke for the first time in almost a year about what God was showing him in the birth of his son.

Luke 1:68-69 (NIV)
68 "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David


The horn was a symbol of God's calling the people.  The shofar was a ram's horn and was used to call them to seasons of worship and celebration.  John was going to be that horn that called the nation to God doing something in their m…

Merry and Joy in Christmas

John 3:16-17 (NIV)
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.


The Bible is full of the word "Joy", but only once is the word "merry" translated, and it's not good.  Jesus said the word in a parable that was meant to rebuke a man's desire to get Jesus to side with him in a dispute about material wealth.
Luke 12:13-21 (NIV)
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
14 Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?"
15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
16 And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a go…

On Saying "Yes Lord"

Matthew 1:20-21, 24 (NIV) 
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

Luke 1:35-38 (NIV)
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God...
37 For nothing is impossible with God."
38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.


Luke 2:11 (NIV)
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV) 
36 "Teacher, w…

The Visitors

Many people travel over Christmas.  It's not unusual for households to swell as every available room, couch, cot, even sleeping bag gets used.  That will be the same for our household as nine adults, one pre-schooler, three toddlers and baby make their way in to stay.  I recently found out that two million people per day travel from now through the New Year just on airplanes alone.  It's a busy season for Christmas travel; and spending time together with family is probably the most typical tradition of our Christmas season.

But imagine if you will sudden guests...visitors you had never met before who showed up seeking you.

Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV)
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."


These "Magi" (from the Greek word Magoi) are star-watchers, astrologers, who not…

Bothered by the Birth

Matthew 2:1-3 (NLT)
1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,
2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.


I'm not sure who said it first, but I heard Dr. Phil say it years ago, and so I'll attributed it to him:  "When Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"
Well, in the first century, it was King Herod...and he was deeply disturbed when he heard news of a King born of the Jews.
This story in Matthew 2 follows Matthew's account of the birth of Jesus at the end of chapter 1.  None of the other Gospels include this story of the visit of these "Magi" - star searches - from another country.  I'll share more about them tomorrow.

Herod "reigned" in Judea.  The Romans had divided the area of…

There is Room After-all

The story of the birth of Christ includes many characters...Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Angel Hosts are some of the good ones.  Caesar Augustus is the emperor...can't help but equate him to Darth Vader!  Another character that seldom gets good reviews is the innkeeper in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 (NRSV)
6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.


You notice, the text does not say there was an "innkeeper".  Like the legend of the Magi in Matthew 2, inferences have been made down through history about various aspects of the story.  It even says in vs 6, "While they were there, the time came..."  It's quite possible that Mary and Joseph were already in the town for a time when the baby Jesus began to come.  Since there was a census, the town would be bloated with extra people, and in all likelih…

Christmas Courage

Matthew 1:18-24 (NRSV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.
20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."
24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her …

The Sadness of Christmas

Luke 2:25-35 (NIV)
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.
34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign th…

Nunc Dimittis

Luke 2:21-35 (NIV)
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"),
24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
28 Simeon took …

Christmas Through a Child's Mind

My twin grandchildren arrived last night...safe and sound. It is a joy to have family to share Christmas with...and in honor of my grandchildren...all 5 of them...here's what Christmas is all about:
She was five, sure of the facts, and recited them with slow solemnity, convinced every word was revelation. She said, "They were so poor they only had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat and they went a long way from home without getting lost. The lady rode a donkey, the man walked, and the baby was inside the lady. They had to stay in a barn, with an ox and ass (hee‑hee) but there were three rich men who found them because a star lited the roof. Shepherds came and you could pet the sheep but not feed them. Then the baby was borned!!"     Her eyes inflated to the size of silver dollars. "The Baby was God!"  And she jumped in the air, whirled around, dove into the sofa and buried her head under the cushion... which is the only proper response to the Good News of Jesus' …

The Magic of Christmas

Isaiah 25:1 (NIV)
1 O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago. 

Isaiah 29:14 (NIV)
14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish."

Revelation 15:1a,3-4 (NIV)
1 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign:...they sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.
4 Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." 


Psalm 40:5 (NIV)
5 Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. 


In w…

Friendships for Advent

Luke 1:26-45 (NIV)
26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will …

Advent Future

Luke 1:30-33 (NIV)
30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."


Romans 8:19 (NIV) 
19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

Titus 2:11-13 (NIV)
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
13 while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,


Revelation 1:4-8 (NIV)
4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to …

3rd Week of Advent: Candlelight

This is the beginning of the 3rd Week of Advent.
Isaiah 61:1-2a (NIV)
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor...


John 1:4-9 (NIV)
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 



It's not as common today as I remember growing up - candles in the window.  We frequently light candles, but especially during Advent.  Candles, of course, are  no longer the main sou…

Kettles

2300 times the Bible uses the word...in every book it appears...but here's a few that seem worth meditating on today:

Matthew 7:7-12 (NIV)
7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.



Luke 6:38 (NIV)
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV)
2 "So when y…