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Thinking about Christmas lyrics

Christmas in my family was always a big deal. Our family is big, and so it generally involved cousins and food, sleepovers, garden cricket, swimming pools, braais and a Test match or two.

Growing up as a pastor’s kid, most of these activities were tacked on around church activities. In our child minds though, church activities were an add-on from the aforementioned REAL activities.

Things change. Perhaps it’s the aging process, the passage of time, the yearning for something more… but I sense those two things inverting.

Here I find myself, in an Islamic nation, thinking about Christmas. And why. A human born to a virgin, the “Saviour of the world”, and the fragility and absurdity of the whole thing, has me (in my few quiet moments) asking more questions. I am generally more perplexed than I was trying to figure out some of the words in the hymn book growing up. Granted, it doesn’t take much to perplex me. (Just ask my kids when they’re trying to explain stuff to me on the latest server on Minecraft.)

As I reflect on the reason for the season, I’m cognisant of lyrics of Christmas songs from my childhood. I remember lines like:</p><p>I played my drum for him”

“Sleep in heavenly peace”

“Let every heart prepare him room”

“Fit us for heaven to live with thee there”

I find it weird (and yet unsurprising) how they just live in your subconscious for so long, and can easily be recalled after many years of dormancy. The punchline for me is that they’re a quiet, haunting reminder of the formative years of my faith and, in a way, demand some sober reflection on where I’m at on the journey.

For the purposes of this blog, I’ll share some thoughts on the lyric from Little Drummer Boy.</p><p>I played my drum for him” is the famous line of a “poor boy” who has “no gift” other than his ability to play his drum.

Firstly, and for a bit of a lol, there’s a case for it being the worst song of all time.

Secondly, and interestingly, the Bible mentions dozens of musical instruments of the various types; but only one percussion instrument is named — the tof, or hand-drum — even though other kinds of drums were known elsewhere in the biblical world.

Finally – and seriously – I’ve come to the conclusion that we all do stuff for someone. Either ourselves or someone else. Often, but not always, we do stuff in order to get something in return. We “make investments” in things and in people in order to reap some sort of dividend – for ourselves or something else. I suppose it’s a matter of “why?” – and there are many variables to that. However, specific to this lyric: why would you do anything for Jesus?

The answer for that little drummer boy, I guess, was right in front of him. God had already committed to doing it all for him. There God was – a baby human, on planet earth – beginning the journey to the cross. Before the drummer boy could do anything, God had acted.

There was no presumption that he had to play his drum; however, he had the opportunity to play his drum. In other words, he didn’t have to; but rather, he got to.

Why do anything for Jesus? Because it’s a response.

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