Updated: Jan 29
<singing> hmmmmmmm On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … ten lords a-leaping.
So far we have already received:
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.
The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit – Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience [Forbearance], Goodness [Kindness], Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, Continency [Chastity].
The eight beatitudes – the blessing of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount for: the poor in spirit, mourners, the meek, those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for being righteous.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
The six days of Creation, where work is required six days each week, in order to deserve rest on the Sabbath.
The five books of the Torah, which lay out the map from blissful ignorance, to lost purpose, to being chosen and shown the way to the Promised Land of Salvation.
The four Gospels that become the four cornerstones from which a square and true temple to the Lord can be built.
The trinity of faith, hope and love.
The duality of two testaments, where what is Old is first required, before a New covenant can be added.
And Jesus, the one who sacrificed himself so we could receive him and be saved.
All gifts from our true love – God, beginning when Jesus is reborn within us on our personal Christmas Day.
Today’s gift – the ten lords a-leaping – represent the Ten Commandments. While those are the first ten of 613 total laws passed down by God through Moses, all laws are for God’s priests. Others can call them the foundations for their civil laws, but the laws of Moses represent a contract between God and those who will truly be His children.
Today the gift is a “diploma” dressed as a stone tablet etched by the finger of God. It surpasses any document produced by all seminaries (and governments) and gives you a degree to practice the ministry of Christ.
Over the next two days we will open the gifts of eleven pipers piping (the eleven faithful Apostles), and the twelve drummers drumming (the twelve points of the Apostle’s Creed).
The gifts are all preparing us for a personal Epiphany.
More than a Christian feast of celebration for the visit of the Magi, recognizing the divine nature of Jesus to Gentiles, we must each have “a revelatory manifestation of a divine being” suddenly come upon us. That makes it possible for us individually to experience “sudden insight or intuitive understanding” – the true definitions of “epiphany.”
When we read two weeks back, about Mary going to see Elizabeth because she had been told by Gabriel she would have a son who was to be called Jesus, her delivery of baby Jesus symbolizes the beginning of worldly growth and development. Mary was preparing for that worldly appearance, while Jesus was developing in her womb.
The birth of baby Jesus then demonstrates how something inside our being … as a newborn priest to the One God … cannot forever stay in the safety of self. We must enter the world and affect others. As a reborn baby Jesus, embarking on the path of a new way of living our lives, God knows we will need His help. That help is reflected in the gifts unwrapped during the twelve days of Christmas.
Epiphany is then when we are born as a new adult Jesus; but to reach that point of preparedness, we must first learn to trust that the spirit within will always be true to our needs, for fulfilling God’s work. We have to go through a labor of love presenting ourselves as did young Jesus.
Jeremiah wrote in his song read today, “Among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together.” He sang of all who truly serve the LORD.
The blind and lame represent those who are virgins to the Holy Spirit, and everyone is crippled spiritually before losing that virginity. People need to be led by God’s priests to have their own personal Christmas Day. As our new lives in that holy priesthood goes along, we may find resistance, ridicule, and testing, as well as support and encouragement. That is the labor of faith that is required to have a personal Epiphany … when we meet others like us and bring others into our ranks.
When David wrote his song of happiness and praise to the LORD, he pointed out some stages of that development. They can be seen as parallel to the gifts of God during the twelve days of Christmas.
“How dear to me is your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!” exclaimed David, as we should do on Christmas Day. We feel the happiness of the LORD dwelling within our bodies.
David sang how he was, “longing for the courts of the LORD,” where those courts can be seen as the four chambers of the heart, lined with the Laws of Moses and the four Gospels.
David also used a bird theme, paralleling the partridge, turtledoves, hens and calling birds of the twelve days of Christmas, saying “The sparrow has found her a house.” Our body is the house. The sparrow is the Christ spirit.
Just as Mary AND Elizabeth shouted with glee about their new state of being with child, David sang, “Happy are they who dwell in your house!” We must feel that JOY of the twelve days of Christmas.
<singling loudly> Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing. When heaven is seated in one’s natural body, then one cannot keep from singing!
Paul wrote to tell us how God “destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ.” That means our receipt of the Christ mind makes us just like Jesus; but for a while we will not quite be ready to minister as a saint. Through that adopted state, we take steps towards that advanced condition of life experience, by demonstrating the strength of our faith, our promoting hope and our extending charity to those in need.
When Paul wrote, “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,” this is a talent given by the master for his servant to grow and magnify.
The gifts of wisdom and revelation are those coming during the twelve days of Christmas.
Now there are three possible reading from the Gospels today … two of which are from Matthew’s chapter two and one from Luke’s. The Matthew readings focus on events before and after the Magi gave their gifts to baby Jesus. The Luke reading focuses on an event when Jesus was a twelve year old boy.
Regardless of which reading one chooses, they all show how fear overcomes people, making them consider doing the wrong things. However, those who put their trust in the LORD are protected.
Herod feared the birth of a king that would threaten his power and control.
Joseph was afraid that Herod Archelaus – the son of Herod the Great and the initial ruler of Judea after his father’s death – would still be a danger to baby Jesus.
Mary and Joseph were afraid they had lost boy Jesus in Jerusalem, in the confusion after the Passover festival had ended.
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph three times, warning him to take his family to Egypt, advising him to return to the land of Israel, and then warning him to bypass Judea and move to Galilee. God protected His servants.
The wise men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, but to take another route home. Again, God protected His servants.
Boy Jesus was found safe in the temple, sitting with the rabbis … protected by the Lord.
On this second Sunday after Christmas, the gift we must hold onto the most is trust. Once we are reborn as baby Jesus, we enter the realm of a new world … just like when all babies are born. We come out kicking and screaming … but there can be no return to the warmth and comfort we knew before.
In a practice of divination called the “Sacred Tarot,” there are 78 cards of different suits and importance. Each card symbolically depicts one of the multiple events of normal life, with those most important events in a separate class of cards, called the “Major Arcana.”
There are 22 cards in the Major Arcana, with 21 having some numerical value, from 1 to 21. One lone card has a value of zero. It acts much like an Ace in a regular deck of playing cards, where it can be played as either a 1 or an 11, such that the zero has no value or it has the highest value, as 22. That card is named “The Fool.”
The symbolism of The Fool card is that of a boy exiting a cave, in mid-step on a rocky ledge outside the cave’s entrance. He has one foot on solid ground and the other suspended over the edge of a cliff. He has a happy little dog bounding along with him, with both boy and dog looking up at the sky above. They cannot see they are the edge of danger, appearing quite ready to walk off into a great abyss.
As a card of zero value, The Fool card depicts the foolish steps people make in their lives, which significantly change their lives for the worse. They failed to look ahead. They did not watch their step. They dove headlong into disaster.
Still, as a 22 valued card, The Fool represents complete faith in God, knowing that the cave [a symbol of the mother’s womb] no longer holds any purpose in their future life development. They look to God for protection and every step they take is a leap of faith. Whatever pitfalls lie ahead, an angel will be there to soften their falls.
I tell you this because many of our major life events are forks in the road where we took the wrong path. We have experienced more zero valued, foolish life changing events, than we have demonstrated our faith in God. The history of zeroes leads us to be overly cautious and even fearful … paranoid.
We cannot be fearful and become a reflection of Herod, trying to kill that spirit of faith and trust, thinking it threatens one’s livelihood, position, and stability. Fear of change makes one act as did Herod, justifying a decision to abort that growing child within, because it saves self above all others.
Instead, we must take a leap of faith and go where God’s protective hand moves us to go. The wise men traveled west, well before the time of a significant birth, so they could be at the right place, at the right time, to give thanks. They did not wait until Jesus was born to embark upon their journey.
Joseph always was led to move one step before those who would try to catch him. The foolish rulers who would try to stand against prophecy would die or become banished. By the time twelve years had passed, Jerusalem was a safe place for Joseph, Mary and Jesus to pilgrimage during holy days.
On that day Mary recalled to Luke, remembering when they finally found the boy Jesus, he asked his parents, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Think about how a boy of twelve years was speaking from a firm position of trust and confidence. Luke wrote that Jesus was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” How was it possible that such a young child had that level of effect on learned men? How could it be that they “who heard [Jesus] were amazed at his understanding and his answers”?
Jesus was not preaching down at the rabbis, as if he had spent twelve years ‘learning a thing or two’. Neither was he sitting obediently and being told what to memorize, quietly, like it or leave it.
No, he was listening to what the holy leaders said, and then he was questioning their meaning and their understanding of what they professed to know. After he heard them speak confusion, Jesus was then teaching the teachers about what they had missed and what they saw incompletely or incorrectly.
When you have that level of trust that you have no need to search for any answers outside the Father’s house, nor worry over how you should accept half-truths and falsehoods as “Gospel,” you open your mouth and let the Holy Spirit speak up. Trust in the Lord means you can go about being the newest copy of Jesus born into this world, sitting with those who share your love of God. In company like that it is easy to listen, question, and let God speak through you.
God will “give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him.”
With the new Star Wars movie out and once again drawing huge crowds, let me use a line from that series’ original script … “Use the force.” The “force” is God’s Holy Spirit, which appears to us in dreams and speaks to us like an angel of the Lord. The call of Obi-Wan was to trust and have faith.
We are called to do the exact same thing, because that is how one acts without any fear, with complete trust in the Lord. We cannot sit on that rocky ledge forever. We can’t re-enter our mother’s womb, so the only way to go is over the edge, to places we have never gone before.
The key symbol of The Fool card is the boy looking up to the sky. That symbolizes prayer, which is how we initiate our conversations with God. God answers those prayers.
A few weeks back I told you about my return to complete my college degree, when I was forty years of age. I told you I took on a second job, in order to provide for my family. My previous main job had become a weekend job (by plan), with my new main job being a school bus driver for the county. It was only 25 hours a week, but it qualified as full-time; so I could get healthcare through the county, at a significant savings from what I had been paying. I had it all planned out and the plan fell perfectly into place.
Still … a school bus driver!!! That was a job for wives and old people, not a forty year old white American male!
To tell you the truth, I was embarrassed to tell anyone who asked me, “What do you do for a living,” that I drove a school bus for the county. I was afraid someone would eventually ask that question.
I prayed to God for guidance: “God, please tell me if I am doing the right thing by completely changing my life, jeopardizing my family’s security, going back to school at an age when I should be making the most money of my adult life.” “PLEASE send me a sign,” I pleaded.
After I had been driving a school but for about a month, I made an appointment with a doctor to get prescriptions filled, since my county insurance would not begin before a few months on the job. I went into the doctor’s waiting room, signed in and then picked up a sports magazine, as much to protect my face from any passing germs that might be in the air, than to keep up with the latest sporting news from three months past.
There was only one other person in the waiting room, and he was far away, on the other end of the room from where I sat. But, then that person got up and walked past me, going to ask the receptionist a whispered question. I held the magazine up to my face, only a couple of inches away; but I could tell when the man had gone back to his seat, and then I would lower the magazine.
His question answered, the sliding glass window closed. The man began walking back to his seat … but … his motion then stopped right in front of me. “What?” I asked, “Did he drop something?”
I slowly lowered the magazine to find an elderly, yet fit, white-haired man standing slightly bent over to me, looking at me … smiling. He asked if we could talk, and after I said, “Okay,” he sat down in the chair to my left, on the other side of the small table that held the old magazines that was beside my chair.
Rather than tell you everything that the man and I conversed about, just let me tell you he asked that question, “What do you do for a living?” I sheepishly told him, “I drive a school bus.” He smiled and said that he did the same thing once … when he was about forty … back when he changed jobs and went back to school to get his college degree … to provide a better life for his family. Plus, he said, “My next door neighbor drives a school bus now. He parks his in the yard” of their rural property.
That man even knew some of my family relatives and bits of their history I did not know. He gave me a very warm glow as he talked to me, because I knew as I listened to him talk that God was answering my prayer. The man then leaned in close to me and said, “You are making the right decision. You will thank yourself for doing it years from now.”
I was so happy! I wanted to invite him home and have him tell my wife what he had just told me. But, then the nurse called my name and it was time to see the doctor. By the time I was done, the man was no longer in the waiting room.
Some call it serendipity, some call it synchronicity; but whatever it is called, it was an angel of the Lord coming to tell me what to do.
It was a gift that had nothing to do with me being born as a new baby Jesus, in need of special talents that a new priest would need; but it sent me down the path that led me to where my life has needed to be now … writing sermons about being The Fool.
I was assured that God can be trusted.
Today’s gift under the tree of life for new priests is ten lords a-leaping. They represent the Ten Commandments, which are the agreement we make with God that shape the parameters of our worldly being.
Tomorrow’s gift is that of eleven pipers piping, who represent the faithful disciples that transformed into Apostles. A new priest of God is asked to go beyond faithful discipleship and receive that same calling and make that same commitment as did Jesus.
Tuesday’s gift will be twelve drummers drumming, which represent the twelve points of the Apostles Creed:
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
3. who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
4. suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
5. he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again;
6. he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
7. and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and the life everlasting.
Can you see the progression in those twelve points of faith? Can you see how they are similar to the progression we find in the gifts given during these holy days of Christmas?
Your true love has His hand out to you. God is who gives during Christmas, not us. For us to give, we must be prepared and pass some laborious tests. For now, all you have to do is receive His Spirit … trusting that wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be safe and protected.
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