Yesterday, lords were leaping and today pipers are piping. It must be days 10 and 11 of the 12 Days of Christmas.
Do you think the lords were leaping for the ten commandments? That’s what tradition says. Or that the pipers were tuning up for the eleven faithful apostles (forget Judas)? Again, that’s the tradition.
The ten commandments always seem a bit heavy to me, not at all like lords leaping. And the disciples generally seem like a somewhat timid lot, not exactly known for making music, or noise.
But, it may just be that the Hebrews who first received the commandments from Moses were relieved, even joyful, to have a clear set of behavioral rules. And I suspect the apostles were a lot more jolly lot than we see in the gospels.
My favorite representations of Jesus show him laughing. I am sure he told jokes and laughed, and enjoyed others’ telling jokes. Jesus was not afraid of human emotion. Indeed, he was profoundly in touch with his own feelings, and intuited and encouraged others’.
Jesus’ mission, “I came that you may have life and have it abundantly,” is the statement of a man who wants us to enjoy life. And he wants us to do so in ways that empower others.
Let the lords leap, and the pipers pipe: Jesus Christ is born!
Nine days of Christmas . . . surely it is time for some dancing . . . nine ladies according to the song.
As a matter of fact, the last four days of Christmas, according to the song, all draw on images of celebration–ladies dancing, lords leaping, pipers piping, and drummers drumming.
Tradition connects this day with the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–that is, the results of being faithful to God: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.
When those are the hallmarks of our living, it is indeed time to celebrate! Just think what it would be like to behave in those ways all the time! And if everyone else did, too!
Maybe it is already true for you. I hope so. I know I have a ways to go.
But I dance, at least in my heart, knowing that having more of these fruits is always possible, because God wants me to have them in abundance. And God will help me obtain them, if I seek God’s help.
Eight maids a-milking . . . a very homely sort of image.
Tradition connects this image with the eight beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5), blessed are those who are: poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering for righteousness, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, and persecuted for his sake.
These images may not be homely, but Jesus is not using soaring rhetoric. Most people find them puzzling, if not impossible. But maybe this is the connection: milking a cow, you have to get humbly close to the ground, and use just the right hand motion while watching out that the cow neither swats you with her tail or kicks you.
Today also is the final day of Kwanzaa, in which we observe Imani (ee-MAH-nee) or faith that focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.
The beatitudes are surely recipes for living from within the best in ourselves–our nonviolent, loving, caring, God-trusting impulses–and to do so as part of just and honorable living.
As we go into 2010, perhaps these images of maids milking and Jesus teaching can help us get the most out of life.