“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five gold rings – four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.”
Drummers drumming, as if leading a procession of praise in which the earlier gifts are represented as part of all God’s “true love” gives us.
In the Christian calendar, the twelfth day is also known as Epiphany, a word meaning to show, make known, or reveal. In Eastern Christianity as well as in Hispanic and Latin American churches, Epiphany celebrates the fullness of Jesus’ significance for everyone, shown through the so-called wise men – “gentiles” who represent the whole world beyond the confines of established belonging and belief. Epiphany also celebrates Jesus’ embodiment of divinity, his “fullness” as the Son of God, revealed later, at the time of his baptism at the Jordan River: “This is my Son” (Matthew 3:16). As the Puerto Rican Epiphany carol puts it, “Gloria en las alturas al Hijo de Dios...tu luz bien hechora” (lit., “Glory in the highest to the Son of God... whose light is well made”).* Jesus is the light of God, “well made” to shine even in the deepest darkness – even on a cross.
We are given more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). From the next breath we take through our last gasp, we are promised life and hope that can overcome the worst – even death itself. We are given the assurance of divine companionship that can withstand the loss of others while finding in those companionships, too, expressions of God’s unconquerable love. No wonder the Bible speaks of eternal life. This part of life alone cannot hold all that we’re given to enjoy!
* The New Century Hymnal (The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland), 1995, #155, “Los magos que llegaron a Belén” (The Magi Who to Bethlehem Did Go)