December 18, 2014 - Drumming Out A Rhythm

December 18, 2014 - Drumming Out A Rhythm
Shea Zellweger

Psalm 50

Do I eat the flesh of bulls,
or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the most high.

– Psalm 50:13-14

This late in the Advent Season, Christmas celebrations are in full swing. Many churches, including the ones in which I grew up, like to do a sort of combined Christmas-service-and-talent-show, in which various people from the church share a song, a bit of Scripture, a story, or – tradition allowing – an interpretive dance. There are a few performances which are practically inevitable at such gatherings. Someone will deliver their most operatic O Holy Night. A family will offer up We Three Kings, complete with verses.  Another person, probably the one who teaches your children’s Sunday School, will do a semi-dramatic reading of Luke’s nativity passages. And of course there will be a boy between the ages of 7 and 15 who straps on a snare and hammers out a rendition of The Little Drummer Boy.

As a general rule, I’m not fond of Christmas music, and by December 18 most songs are so overplayed even the ones I like have begun to annoy me. But there’s something about The Little Drummer Boy which sets it apart for me. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t get played as often or maybe it just gives me nostalgia for the days when I was the boy who sang it in church (accompanied by a friend who could actually play a drum). But whatever the reason, when I hear it I can’t help but sing (and drum) along. And as I sing along with it year after year I receive a reminder about what it means to truly worship. The boy, whose only worldly possession is his drum, holds such high regard for the newborn Christ he simply has to offer him something even if all he can do is drum out a rhythm for the child. It is not a live animal sacrifice. Nor is it the post-agrarian equivalent; a financial sacrifice. It is, rather, a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise, and it is enough.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

– Romans 12:1