The Little Drummer Boy

At a small group gathering the other night, while my husband and his friend were accompanying with guitars, I looked around the room to see the many smiling faces as songs flowed from their lips filling the room with joy and peace.

 I love Christmas carols. There is something so beautiful and honoring in singing carols about Jesus in the Christmas season. After all, that’s what Christmas is really about, His birth, His life, and His sacrifice for our redemption. 

We sang many of my favorite carols, Silent night, Away in a Manger, and What Child is This? But we did not sing another piece that I like very much, The Little Drummer Boy. There are so many pa-rum-pa-pum-pums in the song, that it’s not immediately obvious what’s going on.  The story kind of goes like this…The little drummer boy narrates and the Magi invite him to come along with them to see baby Jesus: 

“Come, they [the magi] told me . . . a newborn King to see . . . our finest gifts to bring.” 

When they arrive, they gather around baby Jesus bearing their gifts. But the little drummer boy is very sad that he has no gift that is fit to give a king. Timidly, he says that he only has a drum, but asks if he could play it for the baby Jesus. Mary nods her approval, and the little drummer boy plays- Pa rum pa pum pum- and baby Jesus smiles at him while the little drummer played his best for Him.

How special it was that the little drummer boy, who had nothing to give, came to Jesus who was born in poverty, among animals in a stable…a humble child who meets His humble father Jesus. You might say Jesus met him where he was. Our father is like that, you know.

Aren’t we a little like the drummer boy when we first meet Jesus? 

When we first come to Him, we sense in His presence our frailty. We come to Him feeling inadequate, insecure, and poor in spirit. We have really nothing to give, but then again, nothing is necessary. As we surrender to Him, He simply frees us to be who He’s made us to be? He tells us that we are enough and to take our drum and play it, pa rum pa pum pum, so that others may come.

And so, in obedience, we play it for Him and we play our best for Him, declaring that we are small, that we are weak, that He doesn’t need us in the least, but that with all that we are, with every little speck of nothing we have, we are giving it to Him. 

Worshipers of Jesus (like the Magi) encourage their neighbors (like the drummer boy) to consider Jesus — to come and meet Him. And when the neighbors do come, if they will believe, a moment happens when they realize their frailty and comprehend His glory, and then they look deep within themselves:

“But I am broken. I am empty and poor. I’ve got nothing to bring a King. All I have is this drum.” 

Turning to them, Jesus gently responds, “Play it for me and for my glory”, and then with awakened hearts they gladly play their very best for Him…

Pa rum pa pum pum…

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