Sunday, January 06, 2008

...about Nine Ladies Dancing

I wrote this for the local newspaper and it appeared this past Wednesday.

Today is the ninth day of Christmas, thus the reference to Nine Ladies Dancing. By now many of the gifts from last week’s Christmas celebrations might be put away, some forgotten, some maybe even broken. You might be tired of leftover turkey. Hopefully you’ve recovered from New Year’s Eve celebrations. Now you might have credit card statements to look forward to, more likely to dread. You think you spent a lot on Christmas gifts? Think about the bill for the gifts the “True Love” gave in the song.
  • 12 Partridges in Pear Trees
  • 22 Turtle Doves
  • 30 French Hens
  • 36 Calling Birds
  • 40 Golden Rings
  • 42 Geese a-Laying
  • 42 Swans a-Swimming
  • 40 Maids a-Milking
  • 36 Ladies Dancing
  • 30 Lords a-Leaping
  • 22 Pipers Piping
  • 12 Drummers Drumming
It’s not exactly a list you’d consult when you need a gift idea for your true love (except maybe the golden rings). And I think this gift giver went a little overboard.

Now I’m not one of those who constantly complains about the commercialism and materialism of Christmas. I do think that some people do go overboard, not necessarily with 42 Swans a-Swimming etc., but by spending way beyond their limit or by not setting a limit at all.

I like giving gifts at Christmas and I like getting gifts as well. I’ve been through 42 Christmases and I still like getting frivolous toys like some new video games and DVDs to mindlessly while away the hours in front of the TV. Sometimes a bit of escape can be a really good thing.

I guess you’d expect a pastor to come up with the good Sunday School answer that Christmas isn’t really about the giving and getting of presents. Or maybe the next best thing might be something about the “spirit of giving.” But this year I told my own kids that Christmas is really all about getting.

If you really think about it that’s what Christmas is about. Not primarily about the fat man in the red suit, although that’s part of it too. Christmas is about the greatest gift ever, given to all people. That’s the message the angel had for the shepherds on the first Christmas. “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

See, Christmas is all about getting. And this “spirit of getting” lasts all year. Salvation isn’t restricted to the 12 days from December 25 to January 5. It’s a gift “for all the people” all year round and their whole lives long. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May the peace of Christ rule in your hea

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