ON THE FOURTH day of Christmas my True Love sent to me four calling birds.
Our four gospels are the four calling birds that call our awareness at Advent to the narrative of Jesus given by four different genres: as a structured and didactic Jewish jewel in Matthew; an unfolding motion picture epic in Mark; an eloquently factual social justice gospel in Luke; and, Jesus as the Son of God in John.
God’s gospel of grace in the world,
Is God’s revelation unfurled,
The Saviour the world would refuse,
Has become the world’s good news.
The gospels are calling birds in that they’re a call to arms. They’re each cavalcades of divine revelation to be spoken out into the four corners of the earth, by the four winds.
The gospels preach Christ — born, raised, the Messiah who lived, died crucified, raised again resurrected, and was then into heaven ascended. They are historical accounts of what took place two thousand years ago as a herald for what God has done.
The gospels were also given to us by our True Love. These oracles are for our edification and blessing. They’re for the keeping of history and tradition. They help retain the order of life. They’re part of the consummation of humanity and creation.
These calling birds call out in their love songs to a humanity doleful and sleepy, inhibited by a slovenly gait and an indifferent heart to the wonders of eternity. These calling birds sing soulful tunes in every way and in every direction throughout the whole earth — and they sing in thousands of languages, all to win one heart; that one heart its word encounters. These calling birds are always words in due season. They speak into our lives with life and hope and grace because they drip with the nectar of the Christ.
Four calling birds break out in song as if from eternity, with an eternal song, and they sing eternally. Their song is delicious for the forager who seeks with a heart of truth. And those who lap up the juice of truth are those who also hunger after righteousness. To these there has been given a great gift: the gospels as lenses for truth.
On the fourth day of Christmas my True Love sent to me four calling birds, three French hens, two turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree.
And then, underpinning the trumpet charge of the gospels, there were the five dramatic acts of the Bible — creation, the fall, Israel, Jesus, and the new people of God… the fifth day of Christmas (coming next).
© 2015 Steve Wickham.