ON THE NINTH day of Christmas my True Love sent to me nine ladies dancing.
The gift that is nine ladies dancing is the teamwork with which they all dance — each lady a distinct fruit of the Spirit. A dance in unison is a beautiful dance to watch. And the fruit of the Spirit is beautiful to experience. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control. In the one they are Jesus Christ — the potential of which is the Christ-child born at Bethlehem. In the one they’re to embody us.
Jesus is love. He shows his love in who he loved — sinners like you and me, but sinners all the same that the world had shunned. Jesus offers us the gift of giving our love to the least of these; to those we might otherwise avoid, and to those especially who have hurt us.
Jesus is joy, illustrated by his joy at being with the children. If there was anyone more welcome in the presence of Jesus than children I’m not sure who they’d be. (But, of course, in Jesus’ eyes we’re all his children.) For Jesus, children elicited joy! (Not work, not anger, not discipline, not harshness.) Jesus offers us the gift of choosing for joy today. Joy must be a choice. And we get there by being grateful; being content with what we have.
Jesus is peace. “Peace I give you, and peace I leave with you,” Jesus could be heard saying. Ours is to embody his peace and promulgate it; by converting our annoyances and frustrations into peace. Peace is such a gift to give someone. What better gift is there than to give someone the agency of peace?
Jesus is patience — Perfect Patience he was called by early church father, Cyprian of Carthage. Jesus offers us the gift of patience in replacement for the curse of anger that spoils far too many things in life. Patience is the delayed neo-cortex thinking that makes us pause and ponder when we’re emotional, in helping us respond appropriately rather than react.
Jesus is kindness. And if there is a worthier virtue of love I don’t know what it is. Kindness is the generosity of a bountiful spirit. Jesus’ gift is that which accords us grace that we would want to spend our love over everyone we come into contact.
Jesus is goodness. God is great. God is good. God is the fullness of both. Jesus wants us all to work into the gift of goodness that he’s giving us. This is the quality of thinking for the best.
Jesus is faith. Of course, the author and finisher of our salvation is also the author of the method by which we work out our salvation: by faith. Jesus gifts us the ability to ply our faith by the workings of trust and surrender in order that we would obey, just as he obeyed the Father. As Jesus was faithful we’re to aspire to faithfulness.
Jesus is gentleness. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus’ spirit is gentle and amenable to working gentleness in and through us, through the perfection of a safe relationship. That is our gift to give — to be gentle, safe people to be with and to be around.
Jesus is self-control. Perfect submission to the Father, Jesus demonstrated command over his own will. This is the gift we’ve been given through the Holy Spirit.
On the ninth day of Christmas my True Love sent to me nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.