• P. Frank

Seven Swans-a-Swimming

On the seventh day of Christmas … seven swans-a-swimming. This day’s gift in the song can stand for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is often represented as a dove or as fire, for example, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” (Malachi 3:3). The process of refining and purifying silver is a demanding one. Silver is found as ore, surrounded by all sorts of rock and other base metals. These rocks must be pulverized, then mixed with a flux mixture and placed in the smelting furnace. The smith must place the mixture in a crucible in the middle of the refining fire, where the flames are the hottest, to melt all the mixture into a liquid. It is then poured into an upside-down pyramid mold where the silver will sink to the bottom and all the waste remains on the top. To purify the now separated silver, the smith has to place the silver back into the fire and sit in front of it, keeping his eyes on the silver the entire time. If the silver is left in the fire too long, the silver will pit and not be smooth. Once the smith can see his or her image clearly in the surface of the silver, it can be cooled slowly. The silver is now ready to shaped into beautiful works of art.

As Christians, we are called to be Christ-like, a reflection of Christ’s image, to the world in which we live. God’s Word is the crucible in which He holds us, inside the refining fire. The impurities in our worldly lives must be burned away, melted and separated out away from us (sexual immorality, greed, anger, envy, pride, etc). Jesus Christ is always with us, through every trial and tribulation. He stands in the refining fire with us, keeping our eyes fixed on Him. “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1–2). We will never be exactly like Christ, but that should never prevent us from trying to be MORE like Christ. The Holy Spirit gifts to us wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, piety, fortitude, and a fear of the Lord. These gifts will aid us in our mission here on earth, which is to spread the message of the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone.

The Holy Spirit gifts to us the tools of:

1) WISDOM – the knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and how inscrutable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).

2) UNDERSTANDING – a superior power of discernment. “I will give them a heart to know that I Am the Lord, and they shall be My people and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7).

3) COUNSEL – advice or instruction that is given. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14).

4) KNOWLEDGE – acquaintance with facts, truths, and/or principles. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

5) PIETY – reverence for God. “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15).

6) FORTITUDE – mental and emotional strength to face difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously. “But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” (Luke 21:12–17).

7) FEAR OF THE LORD – having a reverential awe of the Lord. “Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’” (Luke 12:22–34).

”The Twelve Days of Christmas” song image is by Xavier Romero-Frias and used under Creative Commons license BY-SA 3.0.