• on December 23, 2017

Then He Smiled At Me – Advent Day 23

Then He smiled at me.

These are the words used by the little drummer to describe what he experienced when he played his drum for the Baby Jesus. They might be the most calming, fear-relieving words that could ever be uttered.

The 1941 Christmas song The Little Drummer Boy, by Kathy Davis, became popular when it was recorded by The Harry Simeone Chorale in 1958. Since then, it has been recorded by almost every artist and group imaginable. Perhaps it has become so well known, that it is paradoxically unknown.

The story of the song goes something along these lines:

The little drummer boy was summoned by the Wise Men to accompany them on their visit to the newborn King.

Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum
A newborn King to see
Pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King
Pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum

So to honor Him
Pa rum pum pum pum
When we come

It seems to me that (in the song) the Wise Men wanted to announce their arrival and generosity with a bit of pomp and circumstance. So, they brought along the little drummer boy. They were seemingly using him as a means to an end. This is the old-as-time story of the rich using the poor. Perhaps they didn’t know that the Baby in the manger came to put an end to this kind of caste system.

The little drummer boy was bothered by the fact that his poverty left him with no chance of bringing something that was fit for a king. And I can’t help but notice that he recognized Jesus as being in a similar situation to his: I am a poor boy too.

Little baby
Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too
Pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give our King
Pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum

He then asks the Baby Jesus if its ok to play the drum for Him. The little drummer boy displays a humble confidence. He could have been rejected. He could have been told to stop. Honestly, a drum in the presence of a baby isn’t exactly acute situational awareness. He seems to be aware of this since he respectfully asks for permission to play his drum.

Shall I play for you
Pa rum pum pum pum
On my drum

And play he did. He played his little heart out. He must have been getting after it because the Virgin Mary was nodding along to the beat. Even the animals got into the groove with a little hoof tapping of their own. He played his drum despite the fact that many would deem his gift as less significant than the others.

Mary nodded
Pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him
Pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum

It’s interesting to think that the little drummer boy was there to enhance and draw attention to the entrance of the Wise Man. But in a momentary inversion of prominence, he became the star of the show. Even the baby Jesus yielded the spotlight to this little boy.

The little drummer boy did the only thing he knew how to do. He did the only thing he could do. He played his drum to the glory of God. He didn’t bemoan and lament his inadequacies and shortcomings. He didn’t attempt to reach up to the standard of the Wise Men. He didn’t try to compete. He simply did his best. His heart wanted to give something to the King. He gave Him the only thing any of us can give: whatever is in our hands.

Jesus response is the best thing any of us can receive.

Then He smiled at me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

God smiled at the little drummer boy. He liked it. I can only imagine that the little drummer boy was smiling ear to ear.

You might not have much this Christmas. You might think that you do not have much to bring before your King. Maybe all you have is a drum and you’re wondering if Jesus wants to hear your drum. You really want to play for Him.

We live in a world that craves the sensational. The Church, tragically, is no different. We honor those who appear to our eyes to be making the biggest sacrifice and having the most impact. But we must never forget that with few exceptions, the Kingdom of God is comprised of mundane, everyday type of people, walking by a simple, unsensational faith in Christ.

In other words, most of us wonder what we can give to God with our lives. This question is asked and answered by the Christmas poem In the Bleak Midwinter (Christina Rossetti).

What can I give Him poor as I am;
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb.
If I were a Wise Man I would do my part;
Yet what can I give Him? Give Him my heart.

Jesus wants your heart. He wants to fill it with His Light and Love. He wants to make you a part of His family. The Good News is that Jesus is God’s smile on earth. We must believe this Good News. Jesus loves when we come in simple faith, bringing what we have. No one will be turned away. He wants to hear your drum. Play your drum for Him. Play your best for Him.

Pa rum pum pum pum.

J Mauger

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