The 12 Days of Christmas actually do have words with symbolic meanings, but they have the danger of being lost, especially if we misquote them. On the FOURTH day of Christmas my true love gave to me – FOUR CALLING BIRDS?
The 1780 version (the English translation from the French) is written “FOUR COLLY BIRDS” – the common description of what we would call ordinary blackbirds – noisy, disruptive birds that are not as beautiful as they are noticeable. Would your true love give you blackbirds (common and noisy) as a symbol of love? Really, it doesn’t seem so romantic at all.
Legend has it that FOUR COLLY BIRDS speaks of the FOUR GOSPELS – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four books begin the New Testament and all tell the story of Jesus: life, death and resurrection. Their pages are filled with eye witness accounts of tyranny, espionage, miracles, adultery, scandal, greed, poverty, crime, salvation, betrayal, and (at the very climax) the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the single event that changed the world.
It is perfect that we recognize the GOSPELS as FOUR COLLY BIRDS. The gospel soars into our life like a stark blackbird against a crystal blue sky. The Good News comes singing, loudly; bringing evidence that demands a verdict. It is impossible to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be neutral – it requires a yes or a no. The red pill or the blue pill….
My true love is an all-consuming fire. He came into my life and swept me up from the wreckage that I had made of it. Upon his dramatic rescue, He revealed Himself as truth – not a kind and gentle truth, but a truth that completely changed me and the direction my life was taking. I am forever grateful; forever changed.
In the movie Moonstruck, Ronny declares his passionate love for Loretta, then gives her a disclaimer: “Love don't make things nice. It ruins everything! It breaks your heart; it makes things a mess!” Anyone who has seen the truth of the Gospel knows that it is not about the false Jesus (meek and mild) – it is the TRUTH about the Christ, the Messiah who came in power and transforming love. The Good News conveys supreme passion –God giving His ONLY SON to be a Savior us. If we are honest, we can say that the Gospel ruins us for anything else in this world. We know God as truth, a beautiful truth that cannot ever be denied. Because of the truth of the GOSPEL we can never go back to how we were before.
I don’t believe in free will. If I had a free will, I would be miles from God. I am, at my very core, a selfish, proud woman who will do anything to get what I want. Along came FOUR COLLY BIRDS and knocked down my life – only to have me be swept away by a benevolent lover. I’ve never looked back.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me – FOUR COLLY BIRDS. The most powerful thing I have ever read – the GOSPEL, the GOOD NEWS is available to everyone. It comes from God and is for us – read it if you dare.