“On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me, four calling birds,
three French hens, two turtle doves AND a partridge in a pear tree.”
Four calling birds in this Christmas memory song, originally were four quacking ducks. We can imagine these birds in our barnyard of animals to be the four Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament. Four men wrote letters sharing their understanding of the life of Christ. The Sunday morning Gospel text usually comes from one of these four books that share about “true love” giving “the partridge,” Jesus to us at Christmas.
Four witnesses at the scene of an accident will tell four versions of the incident. They may agree on most everything but they may also differ on some points. What color was the car? How many people? Detective stories have a lot of fun collecting the reports at the scene of the incident and eyes roll. The four Gospels are by four different men, from four different backgrounds, writing to four different audiences, but collected and put together to “call” to us to read.
So how do we want to learn about God in 2021? Certainly nature tells us some of the truth about God and walks in nature are refreshing and can be inspiring. Stirring movies about the life of Christ give a visual interpretation of what life might have been like during those years of incarnation. Sermons challenge us to think deeper about the events, the teachings, the miracles of Christ’s life and apply the lessons to our own lives. Listening to touching testimonies of how God acted “this week” in the life of a fellow believer stirs our faith. Prayer and meditation to listen for that “still small voice” even as Elijah did on the mountain has been a favorite discipline for mystics. True Love gives and True Love calls to us to be see beyond our own perspective and interpretation of life and to realize God walks with us, to save us.
Today is December 31st and for many that signals a reflection over the dynamics of 2020. My husband used to talk about his 20-20 vision. That referred not to his glasses but to our prayer that the two children we adopted in 1996 would be mature and “lauched” by 2020. Would we even live to see that day or that dream come true? Tomorrow we enter 2021. Wow. This year has challenged us in ways we never even dreamt of last New Year’s Eve. It is also true, this year has brought blessings we never thought of and new patterns of behavior. Perhaps as we reflect, we might want to commit to reading one of the four calling birds, one of the Gospels, this year. The church will be preaching from Mark but all the Gospels call to us and remind us that Jesus, the partridge, was God incarnate, who healed, who taught, who entered our highs and lows, who walked through death and goes with us into 2021. That is a call worth listening to. Blessings as you reflect and ponder the future!