“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” 1 John 4:7-16.
Most people expect the first day of Christmas to be the day after Christmas. But Christmas Day itself is the first day of Christmas. The readings therefore, all point to the Lord and how he will dwell in midst of his people. Of course, this is a great part of Hebraic history and throughout the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament, you will find this recurring theme. For us as Christians, we too are invited to share in the mystery of God dwelling both within us and us in Him.
The popular carol of the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ apparently innocuous and seemingly about farm animals and a range of people is also about focussing on Christ. “On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree.” Christ is represented by the partridge and the ‘true love’ is God Himself. Used at a time when the Catholic Church had to disguise their teachings due to the threat of persecution, it follows that people had to be creative in order to pass on their teachings and keep their faith alive.
I wonder how many people, persecuted for their faith, are able to keep their spirits up with songs of a similar ilk? In this Christmas season I invite you to take some time out from the festivities and pray for those people groups across the world who face persecution and ask God for that life-giving creativity to enable those people to keep their faith alive.