The Twelve Days of Christmas
For many people Christmas is now history, but in reality it has just begun. In the liturgical calendar Christmas is actually a twelve day celebration that begins on Christmas Day. This idea is reflected in the popular song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” There is, however, far more going on in this song than many people suspect. For many years it has been used as a teaching device for Christians.
Throughout the song various gifts are mentioned, most of these gifts coming from nature. The “true love” who offers them is God. The very first gift mentioned, “a partridge in a pear tree,” represents Jesus himself. He is presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings. The “two turtle doves” represent the Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God’s revelation of Himself throughout history. The “three French hens” are symbolic of the three theological virtues: faith, hope and love. The “four calling birds” represent the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
You can easily learn of the other meanings by doing a Google search; the point I want to make here is that for those who are steeped in the Scriptures and theology one can find many images in nature that will help them stay focused on God. I realize that for some this might seem strange and far-fetched. It is, however, a practice that we find consistently used in the Bible. Nahum, for example, looked at the clouds as the dust of God’s feet (Nahum 1:3), while Jesus pointed to the birds of the air and the flowers in the fields as reminders of God’s providence and care (Matthew 6:25-34).
In my blogs I often point out how God’s Creation has a way of pointing us to the Creator. The likelihood of this happening can be enhanced as we pay more attention to how Scripture itself connects God and nature. That is one reason I find the version of the Bible put out by HarperOne called The Green Bible so helpful. It places in green type the various allusions to nature in the Scriptures. If you want to experience more of God in His book of nature it will pay you to spend more time in His other book, the Bible.
(Since I’ve never photographed a partridge in a pear tree, I share with you today a ruffed grouse sitting in snow.)