13 December 2008

On the first day of Christmas

My kids love to sing "The Twelve days of Christmas" and they especially love to anxiously await some mysterious stranger dropping gifts off on the doorstep for 12 days before Christmas. This miracle has happened at our house 2 0r 3 years. I can distinctly remember 2 years when life was going really rough and this lifted everyone's spirits so much.

This year Isaac is sharing the 12 days of Christmas with us - and I'm adding in a little bit of the history of the Christmas Symbols before the song. While looking up the meaning of the symbols I found out that it is another piece of history that can't be proven for absolute certainty, and some people want to "debunk" the religious symbols (is that surprising) of the song. (The Twelve Days of Christmas, Dennis Bratcher) The greatest part for me was this paragraph that seemed to sum up what I have been struggling to understand about symbols.

"However, on another level, this uncertainty should not prevent us from using the song in celebration of Christmas. Many of the symbols of Christianity were not originally religious, including even the present date of Christmas, but were appropriated from contemporary culture by the Christian Faith as vehicles of worship and proclamation. Perhaps, when all is said and done, historical accuracy is not really the point. Perhaps more important is that Christians can celebrate their rich heritage, and God's grace, through one more avenue this Christmas. Now, when they hear what they once thought was a secular "nonsense song," they will be reminded in one more way of the grace of God working in transforming ways in their lives and in our world. After all, is that not the meaning of Christmas anyway?"

Symbols only have meaning if we give them meaning. The alphabet is just 26 scribbles unless we have been taught that they have meaning. A kiss is just a kiss, or a thimble, unless we attach love and affection in its delivery. I love the symbols of Christmas, and I teach them to my children, just as I teach them to eat, to read, to write, to love and serve one another.

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