What’s your all-time favorite Christmas carol? Without thinking for a second, mine is Little Drummer Boy. I grew up a marching band drummer, but that’s beside the point. Little Drummer Boy embeds the secret of the universe in which we all live.
Christmas is probably the most significant story in history. Seriously. Whether you’re a Christian or not, the entire universe is rolled up in Christmas and Little Drummer Boy shows it. Let me explain.
The UnChristmas Universe
Consider for a moment the Christmas story. Mankind lost. God comes to save us. He doesn’t come through power or might, but through a baby. This baby is going to save mankind.
But focus on mankind for a moment. And the universe against it. When a human baby is born, he (and she) has a force that desires to pull him down. The force is evil. Its hell with a noose around our necks yanking us to burn. Nobody’s free of this pull, and we’re either going to resist it or succumb to it.
Resisting it is tough, brutal, unforgiving. Surrender is a whole lot easier. Hell lies to me day in and day out. I’m a bad dad, I’m a crummy businessman, I’m a jerk of a husband. I can’t do anything right. Just go to hell, the liar tempts. The entire universe is against me. Give up.
The force of the fallen world is there, and you’ve experienced it, too. It’s the same force that wants you to keep sleeping in the morning, that tries to convince you to quit that project you’ve been working on, that tells you those lies about the difficult relationship you’re in. Truth is, you have — just like every human being on the planet — a personal devil that attempts to put you in your place.
That’s the reality. The world as we know it. Two-thousand years ago, Christ entered this dark world.
The Christmas Hope
Little Drummer Boy captures the significance of how Jesus was born. I think most other holy-holy-holy carols miss it. Jesus didn’t come as a worldly king, a warrior, or magical candy man with a pocket full of tricks. He came as a baby who would grow to be a man who would walk a walk that we would be called to join.
It’s easy to miss the reality of it all. The fallen universe is still there, but now we have permission to push back on it. Through the strength we find within. Our relationship with Jesus starts the revolution. Not with sword or military strategy, but through the gifts and talents we already have.
So here is the Christian message before you. I get why this upsets people. Christ came to save everyone. You’re standing there, defenseless, with absolutely nothing. You’ve been beaten up for years by the ruthless world. In your abused weakness, Christ tells you to push back on the immensity of the entire universe. Seriously?
Remember, this is easy to miss. The temptation is to give up, right then and there. Thanks a lot, God, I need more than this little babe to take on the universe! What else, really, are you supposed to do? You have no sword, no counter force, no magic spell that can push back against the world and its might. You are exposed and defenseless.
Just like that drummer boy. All you have is that drum and a couple of drum sticks.
Get on with it.
Give Jesus what you have.
Taking on the entire universe is no more complicated than picking up that gift and playing. I may not be able to tear down the universe all by myself, but I can play my drum.
“Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.”
Turns out that is exactly what He wants — and what the universe hates. As for me, I’ll play my song. That’s the Christmas message. God wants me to drum.
And he wants you to drum, too. Unwrap the Christmas message from all its religious and materialistic garbage. The truth is you’ve had your drum all along. That’s the relationship to develop. I’m reminded of this every Christmas, through the traditions we celebrate and especially this song. I get a lump in my throat every single time I listen. It’s beautiful.
This is the story that will save the world.