The Gift of the Little Drummer Boy
Preparing for The Baptism of the Lord: Two Days Before Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 29
Old Testament: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 2:1-10
Generous God, in abundance you give us things both spiritual and physical. Help us to hold lightly the fading things of this earth and grasp tightly the lasting things of your kingdom, so that what we are and do and say may be our gifts to you through Christ, who beckons all to seek the things above, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reflection (edited from a previous post)
by Lindsey Funtik, Coordinator of Volunteer Ministries, Ashland First United Methodist Church, Ashland, Ohio, and Pastor of Polk United Methodist Church, Polk, Ohio.
This week, the Western church celebrated the Feast of Epiphany. We commemorated the arrival of the Wise Men to worship King Jesus and, if I am being honest, this year I especially reveled in the fact that they undermined twisted King Herod in the process. There is only one king, friends.
Anyway, because tradition says that those astrologers from the east just showed up to the party, that means I can ponder Christmas-y things for just a little bit longer. Indulge me.
I have tried to make a point of listening to Christmas music. Usually I just rely on the speakers in stores for my yearly fix, but because we were home and I wanted to harness as much joy as possible, I indulged in the merriment. My favorite song is “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” and I love “Santa Baby” in spite of myself, but one song hit me with surprising force: “Little Drummer Boy”.
Obviously, this one is a classic. I grew up singing it and I watched the Claymation movie and I have tried and failed to drum along with its catchy beat. But this year, whenever I heard it (most often the Pentatonix rendition) tears sprang unbidden to my eyes. It was always a visceral and surprising response, and I finally took some time to reflect on why, all of a sudden, the little drummer boy began to resonate so deeply.
The song tells the story of a little boy who has nothing to offer but the drum that he plays. The birth of a king has been announced and everyone is taking their finest to offer him and our protagonist is left with sticks and rhythm. He might want to give the baby everything good in the world, but all there is to hand over is his music, earnest and simple.
I think that, if we look closely enough, we can see ourselves in the little drummer boy. When I think about God in His majesty, the only king before whom I bow, I become acutely aware of how I do not even come close to measuring up. In light of His glory I am so very small, and it can be really easy to want to hide my empty hands behind my back out of shame. Sometimes, it just feels like I have nothing to give.
But the truth is that my hands are not empty; none of us have nothing to give. In fact, I really think that the little drummer boy’s gift was the best of them all because it came from his very being. There was nothing manufactured or showy, just him, his drum, and a desire to offer his affections. This, I believe, is what God wants most of all.
We all have been infused by these spiritual gifts for building up the Body of Christ. We each bring something unique and holy to this endeavor, and I encourage every reader to lean into and utilize those giftings. It’s important to know how God has equipped you to serve the Kingdom. I might say the little drummer boy, this fictional inspiration, was spiritually gifted in faith and servanthood and he certainly put those to good use.
In addition to these supernatural gifts which are listed in Scripture and given by the Spirit, however, we all have the simplicity of who we are to offer. And the beautiful thing is, God wants exactly that.
For the little drummer boy, he had his music and an earnest desire to honor Jesus. Whatever you are, no matter how big or how small, whether it’s drumming or baking or writing or golf or a really good sense of humor, you can bring it to Him. He wants it, He wants all of you. There is no quirk too odd or too subject too boring—after all, He made you!
In my case, I am gifted in wisdom, shepherding, and teaching. I also offer God on high the brain of a writer, the feet of a hobbit, a bleeding heart (which, in all of its imperfection) tends toward codependency, and a deep appreciation for trolls and Baby Yoda and invigorating theological conversations. Some of it is pretty, some of it causes me to obsess over little green creatures, some of it is ugly. And you know what? God wants it all. I give it all to Him as a gift.”
Perhaps the sweetest part of “Little Drummer Boy" is the fact that, after following those who were laying down their great offerings, after laying down his finest and worrying that it might not be enough, the little drummer boy receives a smile. Jesus, God Incarnate, delighted in his song. He was pleased with what the boy had to offer. The King welcomed exactly what was given, no questions, only celebration.
What is something about yourself that you have not brought to the Lord? That which feels trite or small or worthless? What gifts do you have, both spiritual and “normal”? Are you a shepherd who can breakdance? Are you a miracle-worker who has a head full of knowledge about airplanes? Nothing is too small. To gift yourself is a beautiful, holy act.
These thoughts are not novel, but they are true. Let it hit you: God wants you, just as you are, for all that you are. Bring it to Him, honor Him, and enjoy the smile that He shares.
Pa rum pa pum pum.
Cross-Posted from "Reflections on Faith, Words, and The Holiness of Today"