Saturday I started the 12 Days of Christmas post series based on a book called The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle. You can read the introduction about it and Days 1, 2, and 3 here.
"On the fourth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...four calling birds..."
Apparently, the old English has been changed a bit over the years, because the four calling birds are actually supposed to be colly or collie birds. Collie comes from the same root word as coalier, or coal, which means black.
So collie birds are actually European black thrush birds (better known as plain ol' blackbirds). In my research of these birds, there were two words that kept coming up over and over again: black (of course), and common.
Helen Haidle in her book The Real 12 Days of Christmas, as do most others, associates the four collie birds with the four Gospels, and more specifically the four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Just as the blackbirds in the song, these four men were common, ordinary, run-of-the-mill kind of people. There was nothing special about any of them...no special markings or colors particular about them. No super-natural talents that warranted them special treatment or favor. They were ordinary men with an extraordinary Savior, in an extraordinary time, and with an extraordinary mission.
In fact, they were so ordinary, that any one of us could be mistaken for them. Matthew was a tax collector; Mark's previous occupation isn't even mentioned; Luke was a physician; and John was a fisherman. Normal, everyday people doing very normal things. Common as blackbirds.
Yet theirs were the voices that God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, intended to use from the foundation of the world to share the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of the Messiah through the four Gospels. And God's words penned through their hands, calling out to the human race to come to Salvation, is still the embodiment of the Gospel message almost 2,000 years later.
The next time you feel as common and ordinary as an old English blackbird, rest easy. That's the very characteristic that God seems to like to use best.