Joy that only comes at Christmas: Nine Ladies Dancing!
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:25-32 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
Reflection: The ninth stanza from our carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, speaks to nine ladies dancing. The carol, and specifically the ninth day, speaks to the idea of Christmas joy. When we read of the first Christmas we see the joy of the Magi, the angels, the shepherds, Mary and Joseph. But perhaps the greatest joy was experienced by Simeon the day Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus into the temple. Imagine the wonder that spread across his face as he saw firsthand the Creator of the Universe in the flesh. Try to picture his smile, chuckle and worship that burst from his voice. Simeon’s joy was pure. The promise was complete. He could go home…he had seen the Lord!
Used forty-nine times in the Scripture, the number nine symbolizes the Holy Spirit’s complete work and conveys the fullness of His ministry. Jesus Christ died at the ninth hour of the day, or 3 p.m., to make the way of salvation open to everyone. The way being opened is best pictured in the Holy Spirit’s tearing of the curtain between Holy Place and the Most Holy Place in Herod’s Temple.
The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is the only one of the Law’s annual Feast days of worship that required the Jews to fast for one day. This special day, considered by many Jews to be the holiest of the year, begins at sunset on the 9th day of the seventh Hebrew month (Leviticus 23:32).
In was at the 9th hour of the day that a Roman Centurion named Cornelius was told, in a vision, to contact the apostle Peter. Cornelius would eventually be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, becoming the first recorded Gentile convert to Christianity (Acts 10). On the Day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd telling them: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning!” (Acts 2:13-15)
Nine is also the number of spiritual gifts that flow out of the Holy Spirit and through the believer. (Read the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians). These gifts are in three groups. The first group has to do with speaking and are listed are tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy. The second group of three is specific to supernatural knowing and includes the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom and the discerning of spirits. The last group reveals the Holy Spirit in action. These gifts include the gift of faith, the gifts of healing and the gift of miracles.
It is important to note that nine is the square of three, and three is the number of Divine perfection, as well as the number peculiar to the Holy Spirit. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the number nine denotes finality in divine things. The fruit of the Holy Spirit are nine in their fullness. His fruit, expressed through us, is Love, Joy, Peace, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Goodness, Kindness, Long suffering and Self-control (Galatians 5:22 - 23).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, Your Word declares, the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Though I have not seen You, I love You; and even though I do not see You now, I believe in You. Continue to fill me with glorious and unspeakable joy. (1 Peter 1:8)