By Tom Flannery

The cost of everything is going up these days, and that includes the cost to purchase everything in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song.  As calculated annually by PNC Wealth Management, that would now run you $24,263 (up from $23,439 last year).
And what would you get for all that money?  Certainly nothing that relates to the yuletide season.  I mean, what do turtle doves, french hens or swans-a-swimming have to do with the True Christmas Story?  You know, the one that doesn’t involve an overstuffed guy in a red suit, flying reindeer or talking snowmen?
The True Christmas Story also has nothing whatsoever to do with a boy named Ralphie or his quest for a BB gun — namely, an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle (as much as I love that movie and look forward to seeing it every year at this time).
Nor does it have anything to do with a lovable elf named “Buddy.”
Indeed, when it comes to the True Christmas Story, there are not 12 days but 3 R’s — and they don’t cost anywhere near twenty-five grand.  In fact, they are free.
They are:  Redemption.  Reconciliation.  Renewal.
Redemption means, quite literally, “to be bought back.”  We all have to be redeemed if we are to be saved and spend eternity with God, but there’s no price that we can afford or ever pay to do it.  That was the reason for the Incarnation, the reason that Jesus stepped off of His throne in glory and came into this world as a babe in a manger — to ultimately pay that purchase price with His own precious blood and life.
1st Peter 1:18-19 tells us that we were “not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold [by money], or from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers [by religious works], but by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
The second R is Reconciliation, “to be brought back together as one.”  When man rebelled against God in the Garden, all of mankind fell as the sin of Adam and Eve was passed on to all of us (their descendants) and that sin corrupted our nature, separating us from God.  The Bible is clear that God is perfectly holy and cannot ever have fellowship with anyone tainted in the least bit by sin.  And we are all sinners by nature and by practice.
Again, this is why Christ came, to do for us what we could never do for ourselves — to save our souls and give us a home in heaven.
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself” by His grace and His mercy alone (2nd Corinthians 5:18, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.), because of what the Bible calls “His great love with which He loves us.”
And this brings us to the third and final R, which is Renewal.  There is a renewal to come, a complete transformation of believers’ bodies/beings as well as that of the world itself.
It just hasn’t happened yet, and won’t until the final resurrection.