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January 5, 2021

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b

Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas. If your true love has been giving you the traditional gifts, you have been receiving in abundance. After all, the song dictates the giving of not one partridge in a pear tree, but twelve; not two turtledoves, but twenty-two. By the end of today, there will be twelve drummers drumming, twenty-two pipers piping, thirty lords a-leaping, and so on. Hopefully you’ve got lots of room! And plenty of masks and hand sanitizer for all of those dancers and musicians. While 364 total gifts sounds pretty nifty on the surface, one wonders amidst this rising cacophony whether your true love really loves you at all!

As the Christmas season winds down today, we rejoice in the abundance of our God. Today’s New Testament verse from the Daily Texts is a favorite of mine. Jesus speaks these words as part of his proclamation that he is the Good Shepherd, the One who lays down his life for his sheep. Abundant life. What does an abundant life look like? I think it starts by pairing abundance with eternity. Jesus comes to give us more life, yes, but Jesus is not simply adding quantity to our life, but quality. Abundance. This is an abundance not found in the gifts we give or receive, however lovely they are. It is not an abundance located in the material, although God certainly desires that all people have more than enough to meet their basic needs. It is not even an abundance of good relationships, or health, or meaningful work to do.

The abundant life is simply life with Christ, the Good Shepherd who causes our cups to overflow with grace and mercy, forgiveness and life. From this abundance, our work and relationships are enhanced and re-centered. Our health is reframed as holy wellness, for Christ is present in illness and weakness; these do not diminish his life in us. The way we value worldly possessions shifts from what I can get my hands on to making sure that all are fed, housed, and loved. Even our giving of gifts is reshaped, as these become loving tokens and reminders of the gift that is Jesus Christ.

The world has largely moved on from Christmas, but we get one last day of it today. I’m not sure what you will do to mark Twelfth Night, but remember: You may not have received 42 geese a-laying, but you have been given Jesus. With him, you receive the abundance of God’s presence in your life, in this world and the next.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Abundant God, we give you thanks and praise for the goodness you bestow upon creation and for the even greater gifts of redemption and re-creation. Help us to have a sense of your abundance in these narrow-seeming days, and the generosity to share your goodness with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: The Twelve Days of Christmas song poster by Xavier Romero-Frias (used with permission).

Today’s Christmas carol is “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as recorded by John Denver & the Muppets, the authoritative version of the song. At least in the opinion of the editorial board here at the Dispatch.

From → COVID-19

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