Thursday, December 27, 2012

On the Third Day of Christmas...

“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.”

French hens?

Imagination often gets a bad rap. Maybe you have a childhood memory of a parent, not believing your story, telling you, “You’ve got quite an imagination.” But so did Jesus! The parables he told were not necessarily actual events but were often drawn from his own imagination to teach eternal truths. And what he imagined was drawn from daily life: cloth, wine, lamp, seeds, birds, fishing nets, vineyard, sheep, goats. On it goes...

Jesus described himself as a hen! “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Luke 13:34). So, following Jesus is like following...a hen?

It is hardly surprising that Christians could imagine significance in a popular folk song apart from anything originally intended. How many pastors have been surprised to hear what their sermon meant to people apart from anything they thought they were saying! The Spirit works as it wills and often in strange ways indeed!

So it is that three hens – “French hens,” the most delicious of all, first bred in France centuries ago – came to classify faith, hope, and love. These are the “theological virtues,” so called because they cannot be shared with others until first received as gifts of true love, the love of God (theo-).

We know it’s more blessed to give than to receive. But sometimes the best gift of all is the willingness to receive. When we give, we’re in control. When we receive, someone else is. And it can be hard to receive because then we’re dependent. Most of us would prefer to be independent. But where does that leave someone who really wants to give us something special – like God? Are we as good at opening gifts as we are at giving them?

How well we ourselves give depends on how much we appreciate what we receive. In faith, hope, and love may we give back, thankful for all we have been given. 

1 comment:

nancy said...

these are fascinating, ab. thanks for sharing them.


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