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The Little Drummer Boy

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“The Little Drummer Boy” is my all-time favorite Christmas song. Oddly, I can remember singing it in Christmas pageants as a kid hating it. “What a dumb song! There is no drummer boy in the story of the nativity,” I would think to myself while rum-pum-pumming to the beat. But a few years back, a Canadian a cappella group known as Pentatonix released their version of the song. Being a fan of the group, I listened and was amazed when I promptly burst into tears listening.

 Yes, their arrangement is beautiful. If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommend it. But something about the lyrics to the song hit me in a new way as I listened to them.

 You see, the little drummer boy is me. It is each of us. Whether or not there was actually a little drummer boy at the nativity scene is irrelevant really. Because the story is still a narrative that perfectly describes each of us coming before the infant Lord in the manger at Christmas.

 Here is this little boy who is told to prepare to go meet a new king. How could he possibly understand what that really means? Other than knowing it is something, someone very important. How can I? How can I truly understand the fullness of the babe in swaddling clothes? Who He is and what He means to the world?

 The drummer boy is told to bring his finest gifts for the king. But he is poor. He has nothing to offer anyone, let alone a king. Was he ashamed walking up to the king with nothing? Insecure or afraid he would be found lacking? Even if he was the richest person in the world, what gifts of use or importance could anyone possibly give to a king?

 I too am poor. Not so much materially, but spiritually, emotionally, personally. What gifts do I possibly have to give a king? THE King? Should I even bother approaching? Am I worthy? Am I welcome? Will I be found lacking?

 Off he goes with the rest of his community to meet this newborn king. And as his time comes to go up to bestow gifts, all he can present is himself. In his poverty. In his nothing-ness. Just himself and the only thing he has--his drum. And so he plays. Maybe not well—he is a little boy. Being poor, I presume the drum is beat up and ragged. But despite the challenges facing him, the ways in which he is lacking, the little boy plays. And the song tells us he plays the best he possibly can for this little baby king, hoping to do him justice with the little he has to offer.

 Isn’t this the reality for all of us as we approach the newborn King at Christmas? Walking up in humble confidence knowing we have nothing to give, except for our very selves. Knowing we too are poor compared to Him. Wanting to do Him justice with the little that we have to give. Approaching Him nonetheless; striving to do our best, to “play” our best for Him regardless. To give the best of what we have, the best of what we are, little though it might be. Just ourselves. In all our flaws and failures and nothing-ness.

 And how does He respond?

 “Then he smiled at me, par-rum-pum-pum-pum.”

 It is enough. It is more than enough. You alone are enough. Jesus delights in the song of the little drummer boy, likely far more than He delighted in the gifts of the Magi. The point of the gifts, according to the song, is to honor the King. And what honors our King more than the gift of our self? Our heart and mind and life and very being, presented to Him as a gift of love. What need has a king for fancy gifts? What He wants is us! To love us. To have a relationship with us. Poor, humble, and playing our best on the beaten up drum of life. He sees us standing before Him. And He smiles with delight.

Best Friend

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As you read this musing, you have a choice. You can power through or you can pause and contemplate the questions that are asked.

Take 30 seconds and write the name or names of your best friend or friends.

Who did you identify? Was it your spouse, parent, child, sibling, high school pal, neighbor?

What are their characteristics? For example, they are a great listener. Take 3-5 minutes to jot down “what makes them your best friend?” 

Do you have a good list? Many thoughts come to mind. They are the first person you want to speak to in the morning; the last before you go to bed. They listen, hear, and understand. They know you sometimes better than you know yourself. They want the best for you. They celebrate your joys and accomplishments. They console and support during your challenges, struggles, and times of sorrow. They pick you up when you are down. They encourage you to be the best “you.” 

It is sometimes easy to take them for granted. You miss them and they miss you when you haven’t spoken, but you call them and pick up right where you left off.

They are honest, trusting, caring, have your back, walk by your side. They know your faults. They accept you even when you are at your worst; support you even when they don’t agree. They won’t let you fall too hard. You can and do share everything with them. They know your deepest secrets and they know what you want and need even before you do. You disappoint them, sometimes repeatedly, and they forgive you. Simply put, they love you, unconditionally.

Look at your list and the one above. The best friend you identified may have many of those characteristics.

There is One, who has all of these and more. There is One who loves you always. The One is Jesus.

Perhaps you speak to Him every day or perhaps it has been a while. Talk with your real best friend today. Talk with Him. Really talk with Him. Go past asking for what you think you need. Tell Him about your day, your tomorrow, your struggles, fears and faults, your joys, accomplishments, and aspirations. Thank Him for everything you have. Oh, and don’t forget to listen.

He has a birthday in a few weeks. He has already given us the best present we will ever receive. He gives Himself to us every minute of every day. He gives us His unconditional Love. He gives us the opportunity to live eternally in His kingdom. 

He only wants one gift in return. He wants us, unworthy as we are. He wants us. He wants YOU.

Posted by Michael Ricci
Tags: jesus, friend

Surrendering to God

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I have to admit, Luke 23 makes me tear up every time I read it. The reality of Christ’s love that I don’t deserve through His bloodshed on the cross for me pierces straight into the depth of my soul as I hear my own words (paraphrased), “Jesus I deserve to be punished and you don’t. Remember me when you come into your kingdom,” and He replies, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

I remember hearing a powerful witness talk about Luke 23 my sophomore year of college given by a senior in our ministry. I was in tears realizing I was a lot more like the first criminal than the second. I believed I already knew everything because I grew up Catholic so I didn’t really need Him. Why was He worth fully trusting anyways? I was content with just “a little Church” in my life and would never be one of those “crazy Jesus people,” instead of humbly realizing that I was justly punishable for my sins and I was deserving of God’s wrath. I couldn’t see through the fogginess my own pride had caused. He was God and I was not. I asked Jesus if He would forgive me for thinking I knew better than Him. For demanding He prove Himself to me as a pre-requisite for believing Him and following Him. I was raised a cradle Catholic, but missed the whole point - Jesus came to rescue me from myself. He wanted me to place my faith in HIM instead of my own ability to rescue me. I realized I didn’t have much of a relationship with Him, but desired all that it could be. These were the first steps in giving up control and surrendering to Him. Jesus started to break down my walls I had built up so high that I myself was blind to it.

As I reflect on this passage today at a coffee shop in Brookfield, WI, my prayer is the same that it’s been since then: “Jesus, continue to remind me I can do nothing on my own - nothing apart from You. Help me trust that what You have to offer me is better than what I think I need, and forgive me for the ways I shut You out. Increase my trust in You and replace my pride with humility. Remind me that I need You. Help me fix my eyes on You alone, placing my faith in You, not myself."

He continues to respond to me, “Sami, take my hand and let me rescue you. I will be with you - right now and forever when you see me face to face in Paradise.”

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