Three French Hens

(NOTE: This series of blogs covers the twelve days of Christmas – Dec. 25th through Jan. 5th – and is based on the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas.)

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“On the third day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, three French Hens…”

I have a question for you: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

It doesn’t matter how you answer that question, one thing is for sure; get rid of the hen, and the eggs will soon disappear.

“On the third day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, three French Hens…”

 French hens are known for their size and for their superior egg laying abilities during the winter months. During the time in which the song, Twelve Days of Christmas was written, times were hard and eggs were a staple of life. If a family had French hens, they would be able to endure the long, cold, brutal winter months.

There is an old saying that goes something like this: He that would have eggs must endure the cackling of hens.

What is it in the Christian life that helps you endure hardships? What enables you to keep on keeping on during the cackling of others and the storms that come your way? What gifts of virtue has God given you so you can withstand the long, cold, brutal winter months of belief?

God has given you three gifts – three French hens: (1) Faith. (2) Hope. (3) Love.  The Apostle Paul put it this way, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13). Wipe out the best of Christian dogma and what you will have left is faith, hope, and love. Get rid of all your theology and what you will have left is faith, hope, and love. The entireties of Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments (“two Turtle Doves”) can be boiled down to faith, hope, and love (“three French Hens”).

It is through faith we are saved, sustained, and secured. But real faith is not faith in faith; rather, real faith is faith in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

It is our faith in Jesus Christ that gives us hope. Because of Jesus we have hope of eternal life in heaven, as well as hope of abundant life on earth (John 10:10). In the Bible the word “hope” means a firm conviction that what is hoped for will come to pass. Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is calm assurance. Without hope we have nothing, but with hope we have a reason for living…and dying.

It is our faith that gives us hope, and because of our hope, we can love the way God asks us to love. We are to love God with all that we have, and we are to love others in the same way God loves us – unconditionally and sacrificially.

Loving God and loving others is the fulfillment of all God requires. This is why of the three virtues of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest.

How have the virtues of faith, hope, and love been gifts to you? How have these three gifts enabled you to endure and persevere?

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Here is a quick review of the three days of Christmas in reverse order:

The three French Hens are faith, hope, and love.

The two Turtle Doves are the Old and New Testaments.

The Partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.

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