Songs of the Season: The 12 Days of Christmas

Today’s song inspiration for the season is a popular one, one that’s had different versions created, but the original has lasted.  It’s the 12 Days of Christmas, and it’s a song about the 12 gifts that a gentleman gave to his true love.  The 12 gifts were:

1 partridge in a pear tree
2 turtle doves
3 French hens
4 calling birds
5 gold rings
6 geese a-laying
7 swans a-swimming
8 maids a-milking
9 ladies dancing
10 lords a-leaping
11 pipers piping
12 drummers drumming

This song can teach us many things.  It’s one I can hear again and again because it’s so different from what we hear in all songs written today, and everyone sings it a little differently, even if the words are the same.  I also am amazed by it because I don’t know who came up with the idea that these were the best gifts to give, even for the years of the late 1700’s when it was originally written.

This song also can say a lot about the holiday season we’re in.  Yes, it’s a Christmas song, “Christmas” is in the first line of the song.  But Christmas is just one day according to the calendar (even if different countries celebrate it on different days).  The idea of giving gifts over 12 days is a reminder that we don’t have to cram all of our celebrating into one day, and that it’s OK to celebrate for many days this month.  I also see a connection between it and Hanukkah, because it’s celebrated over 8 days each year, making this song a reminder that those who celebrate Christmas aren’t alone in celebrating this time of year, unlike during other holidays.

The song also says a lot about relationships.  I love the idea that this person was so in love with their true love that they wanted to give 12 expensive gifts.  These gifts may have cost over $10,000 in the late 1700’s, and today they cost over $30,000.  Most of us don’t spend that much on our significant others, but everyone enjoys getting more than one gift (even if that one gift is very special), so the idea of 12 gifts is certainly a simple ballpark to plan around.

Finally, in line with relationships, the song is a reminder that this season we’re in and we finish each year with is all about love.  It’s an opportunity to show love through gathering together, giving gifts, decorating together, making memories together and also donating of our time and resources to those who are less fortunate.

What would your 12 gifts that you would give to your true love be?

Reality Reflection: Love and Kindness

It’s been a rough week for many people. I found out someone I greatly respected passed away recently, my partner got some bad news about his knee, we remembered another 9/11, the Amazon burned, and more lives were lost to hatred or disregard. The other day my partner had on some show that featured Dr. Phil as a guest and he questioned where the humanity has gone, how we used to be able to sit down and talk things through, and now it seems like so many people wait until they’re hitting rock bottom before they’re asking for help or choosing violence over talking. I can’t help but agree, and it’s something I frequently emphasize to my business clients: the importance of remembering we’re all people, humans with feelings and needs and people they care about.

It’s weeks like these that I’m reminded of the importance of the other people that we share this world with. Of taking time to celebrate being alive and surviving through another day. Of sharing this world with amazing creatures like koalas, dogs, turtles and tigers. Of building amazing structures and infrastructure, some that last thousands of years.

It’s so simple and yet we seem to screw it up on a regular basis. None of us are perfect, so why aren’t we able to give each other more flexibility and forgiveness? Why aren’t more of us standing for rebuilding and recovery instead of fighting and defending our little corner of the universe? Why aren’t we taking the time to ask questions instead of just judging or hating? Many have gone through more tragedy in their short lives than anyone should, I’d say it’s past time to circle back to being a community.

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” Barbara De Angelis

Healing with Love

One topic that has developed and changed a lot over the centuries is that of healing. People have tried everything from human sacrifice to bloodletting to blessings and exorcisms, not to mention today’s pills and surgeries, to try to help with the healing process. We should be proud for how far we’ve come, how much we’ve learned about healing and our bodies over the years. So where does God fit into all of this?

Yes, there still are divine healings, God still does work today and make miracles happen. Even some of the things we’re able to do with modern medicine we’re only truly successful with because of what some people would call luck but we know is God. One of the more public illness/healing stories we’ve heard recently is that of Alex Trebek who is fighting pancreatic cancer and cautiously optimistic about how well he is responding to treatment and the positive thoughts and prayers of the many who have watched him on TV over the years. His journey isn’t over yet, so there’s no definitive answer on his healing, but good news is always good news.

Br. David Vryhof said “God’s work is healing work: bringing health and wholeness to human lives – physically, emotionally, spiritually. We ourselves have been healed by Love, and we are to be agents of that same healing and love to others.”

Brother Vryhof speaks to a big part of what God’s healing is all about and that’s love. God doesn’t like us broken and ill any more than we do, but it’s part of the human condition. As part of our relationship with God we can ask Him for healing and He’ll respond in whatever way He sees fit with some type of healing. But that’s a lot of room for interpretation, which is why you should always hope for complete physical healing, but if all that you get is the healing and calming influence of love, that’s something to be thankful for.

This week I encourage you to be a force of healing love for the rest of the world. There are so many people who need love in the world, and even just a little love can help them begin their healing journey. How will you share love with the world?

A Summer of Love

One of my favorite topics, and a favorite topic for many, is the topic of love. We’re getting closer by the day to my favorite season, summer, we’ve already celebrated the holidays of Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, and we’ve got Father’s Day this coming weekend, for some of us all of those are reasons to feel love and share love, even if there’s a bit of bittersweet reminiscing going on over those we’ve lost. But love continues after death. It doesn’t end, it changes. We still love them, we just love them differently.

One of the greatest examples of love is that of God’s love for us. Over the years He has shown us in so many ways how much He loves us. From the start of Creation to Noah’s Ark to crossing the Red Sea to Jesus birth and later death and resurrection, not to mention all of the individual men and women, boys and girls whose lives are well-known throughout the Bible, God’s been telling a story of love for years.

But what’s in the Bible doesn’t begin to tap into all of the evidence that there is that God loves us. It’s in the way the breeze blows, the sun shines, the plants grow, the pets wag their tales, the joy of two people in love seeing each other at the end of a day, the innocence and yet amazing insight of a child, the little unexpected blessings that show up in your day, the good news, the coworker who offered to help with the big project, the satisfaction at the end of a good book or movie, the laughter with friends, the friend who stopped to talk with you, the reminder that just popped into your head, or the health to get up another morning. The ways that God can show up and show love are endless.

If you’re looking for something to challenge you over the summer, I would challenge you to make this the summer of love. Work on the relationships that mean the most to you but are a little (or a lot) broken. Work on yourself and accepting yourself and/or improving yourself. Do good things for the earth. Donate your time to organizations and people in need. And I would encourage you to ask God what ways He wants you to work on loving this summer.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16

A Prayer for Love

Love has to be one of my favorite topics to talk about. It’s all about hope, caring, selflessness, compassion and togetherness. Yes, you can and should love yourself, but there’s so much more to love than just loving yourself. Today we’re talking about love because it’s this year’s theme for the National Day of Prayer which is this Thursday.

Prayer is important  and awesome because we can do it anywhere for anyone, we don’t need their permission, nor do we need to know exactly what’s going on in their life to pray for them. All we need to do is lift them and their life to God. So it’s great that we take time each year to have this day and to focus the nation on prayer. But I’m thrilled that love is the topic they’ve chosen to focus on, because even though Easter was just over a week ago, it seems like the world has already forgotten the message of Easter: a message of hope, forgiveness and life.

Prayer is an important and valued part of our spiritual life and of our relationship with God, and love is taking it the next step. Love is something you can do without any hint of spirituality or directly connected to your faith.  Love is something everyone knows they need, and more people are willing to accept love than they are the words of faith that they don’t know they need, but really do need. Love can be the first step towards building relationships and sharing faith or it can be a continuation of that faith. Love is a universal action and concept that doesn’t require us to speak the same language or have the same culture or be of the same faith, it just asks us to give and care without judgment or ulterior motives.

So as you spend time in prayer this week I encourage you to ask God for opportunities to love, and to look for opportunities to love others in this week, and even beyond National Day of Prayer.

“Love one another. Just as I have loved you.” John 13:34

What Love Really Is

Today is Valentine’s Day in the US. I always love talking about relationships and the potential of romantic love. I’m thankful to have been with my significant other for as long as we have been together, he blesses me in so many ways. Today technically is a day to focus on relationships, but I did share about romantic love on my other blog. Today I want to talk about what love really is.

The dictionary defines love as ‘affection for another person,’ ‘a feeling of warm personal attachment,’ and ‘wholehearted liking for or pleasure in something.’ Through these definitions we’re reminded that love is a good thing, that it should make the world a better place when we choose love. It doesn’t say that love is the easiest thing in the world or that there won’t be tough days, but overall having love in your life should make your life better as well as the lives of those around you. When you choose to live with love it should inspire and encourage others to live with love as well.

Love is also incredible because it crosses many boundaries and makes things possible that aren’t possible without love. Love is also eternal, it surpasses any and all time and location and even life limits we put on many other things. Love can make loss a little less painful, knowing that we were blessed to love them and them us for the time that we did.

Today, quite simply, whether you’re in a relationship or not, I want you to know that you’re loved and lovable. There’s nothing wrong with you that can’t be fixed, resolved, overcome or accepted with love and the support of those who love you. There’s almost nothing going on in your life that can’t be made better with a little love. Love is a choice, I hope that you choose to live with love today.

“When we know that we are loved, we will quite naturally love in return…” Br. David Vryhof

The Freedom To Love

This past month I’ve been looking into a lot of church marketing, growth, health and support topics and seminars. It’s got me thinking again about how people see the Church (any faith organization that fits under the ‘Christianity’ heading), and the people who attend. The world around us has done some serious changing over the past few decades and the Church hasn’t fully caught up. I can understand because it raises fears and questions of healthy boundaries and what is/isn’t secular/spiritual and how it all works together, if it does. But in many ways these fears and the slow and lacking transformation that have accompanied them have held the church back from embracing and investing in the digital mission field.

So going back to how people outside of the church view those inside of the church as well as the church itself, many see it as a restrictive and boring thing, with serious walls between church people and those outside the church, where you can’t do anything wrong (even though forgiveness is a discussed topic). And there is some truth in all of this, especially in churches that have a very old school culture and aren’t interested in making changes. For those of us in the church, the limitations and rules sometimes may feel restrictive, but often they result in bigger and better freedoms than those outside the church ever experience.

One of the most notable is one that’s very prevalent this week, and that’s the topic of love. One of the things we’re called to do, and free to do as much as we want, is to love others with the love that God teaches us about and Jesus modeled for us during His ministry. The word love is used throughout the Bible over 600 times depending on the translation, and is something that Jesus specifically challenges us to do. So as you work through the rest of this week including Valentine’s Day, I would encourage you to pick up that challenge and show love to those you interact with, in both big and little ways.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13