The Little Drummer Boy

Everywhere we go right now, we hear Christmas music. It plays in shopping malls, department stores, and coffee shops as background noise. It’s piped in everywhere, used to sell products, and to spur us to go shopping and give to charities. I find myself singing or humming along with it. I like Christmas music, or at least most of it. A few holiday tunes I could do without. I would like to highlight a few of the carols of the season and reflect on them.

My hope is that these reflections will help you celebrate the reason for the season and have a deeper appreciation for this time of the year.

Today I want to look at The Little Drummer Boy. It’s a cute song with a story. About a boy who is told to ‘Come our finest gifts we bring, so to honor Him when we come.’ It tells the story bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. It simply says that all are invited to come to Jesus no matter who you are. It also speaks about the gifts we have to offer.

We all have something to offer. Not just money or time, but something much more personal. We are all born with something we do well. I am a good writer and I like to read and share with others what I read and am reading. I write a monthly article in my churches newsletter about books and reading. This is one of my talents and I offer it to others for the glory of God.

You too have something you can offer. You all have special gifts to give, and as you may discover that sharing those gifts can give you one of the best kinds of feelings you can feel. It is in sharing our gifts that we are most complete. By sharing our gifts with ours, we fully realize them.

Once a son of a shepherd who was just a boy, his family didn’t have much money, and so they were not able to afford to buy gifts. The boy spent his time helping his father tend to the sheep in the pastures, and there wasn’t much time for playing.

One day the boy went with his father to the market. As they were passing by stands where people sold their goods, the boy spotted a beautiful drum, with silver rings around it and a gleaming white top. He stared at it a long time. He wanted it very badly, but he didn’t say anything for he knew that his family could not buy toys for him. His father paused, watching his son staring at the drum, and knew what he was thinking.

That night after the boy had come in from the pastures; he ate his supper and went up to bed. There on his bed sat the beautiful drum he had wanted so badly. His parents even let him bang on it a little bit before getting into bed.

Starting the next day, and everyday thereafter, the little boy carried the drum with him and practiced on it as he went out to the pastures to help with the sheep. Both the sheep and shepherds grew accustomed to the drumming, and as the months and years passed, the boy became quite good. The shepherds looked forward to hearing his different cadences echoing down the hillside every morning.

The boy carried his drum everywhere he went, and even slept with it beside him at nighttime.

One day a very poor family came looking for a place to stay, the young woman pregnant and ready to have her baby. They needed shelter, but were not able to find any. Therefore, the boy’s family allowed them to stay in their stable. The young woman and her husband were very nice to the young boy, and they were so poor that he felt he wanted to give them something special in return for their kindness, but he had nothing to give them. One cold night, the boy awoke to a bluish light shining in his window. He got up and looked outside, where he saw the stars shining more brightly than before. Shining so brightly that you could see billions of them in the sky, and they seemed to be closer and more present than usual. The pastures below were lit up with the starlight so that you could see everything clearly even far away. It gave the boy a magical feeling. He had to run outside to see better.

The shepherds watching the sheep were also gathered together looking up at the unusually bright starlight. As the boy was looking upward outside his house, he heard crying coming from the stable and saw the light of a lantern shining from within. He went to look inside, where he saw the mother and father holding a newborn baby close. The boy suddenly knew what he wanted to give them.

He ran upstairs, got his drum, brought it down to the stable, and stepped inside.

He said, “This drum is all I have that is mine, but I want to give it to your baby so that when he grows up, he can learn to play like I have.”

The woman smiled and said, “I’ve heard you play your drum, and I enjoy it so much that I want you to keep your drum and share the gift you have for playing instead.”

The boy was very happy to hear that. He picked up his drum and began playing softly, so as not to frighten the baby.

This story and the carol that inspired it is all about sharing what we have no matter how small. It invites us to offer ourselves to others in reverence of the spirit that led and leads us to do so.

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