When I was a young girl, I remember my Dad telling me that his favorite Christmas song was “The Little Drummer Boy.” I have been thinking about that song for the past few days: what it teaches regarding what we give to God. The song is endearing; a young boy going to see baby Jesus and realizing he does not have a gift to present to Jesus. After assessing what to do, he asks if he can give the gift of a song on his drum. This visual image of a little boy offering what he can pulls on the heartstrings of all who listen to the song. The same feeling occurs when parents receive a homemade Christmas present from their preschooler. The most precious gifts I have received are those that my sons made me when they were young; the Mother’s day card with their little hand prints on the cover applied with a bright colored paint, and the little flower bouquet made with a decorated toilet paper tube that held flowers made with painted parts of a cut-up egg carton with pipe cleaner for stems. These little acts of love touch the heart.
Our finest gifts we bring . . . to lay before the king
So to honor him . . . when we come
Just as the song speaks of the purpose of going to see Jesus is to honor him, so too does the birth narrative in Matthew’s gospel focus on honoring and worshiping Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew we are told the account of magi from the East who travel first to Jerusalem after seeing the appearance of a star in the sky. They know this means that a new king has been born. After arriving in Jerusalem and appearing before Herod, they are instructed that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, so they leave Jerusalem and head towards Bethlehem.
“After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way” (Mt. 2:11-12 NRSV.)
Scripture shows us that they bowed and worshiped him prior to presenting their gifts. The gifts themselves are given because they had the means to offer them, but the most important aspect of the encounter is these wise men paying homage to Son of God. They knew this child needed to be worshiped for who he was.
I have no gift to bring . . . that’s fit to give a king
I played my drum for him . . . I played my best for him
Then he smiled at me . . . me and my drum
Like the Little Drummer Boy, what do we give when we do not have the wealth of the magi to give gold, frankincense, or myrrh? How are we to honor Jesus? While our tithing is important and biblical, honoring Jesus requires more than financially supporting the church. God has given us gifts and talents and these talents should employed to the best of our ability and for the purpose of honoring God through them.
In addition to our talents and giftedness, each and every one of us has the capacity to be kind and loving towards others. As we approach Christmas may we consider ways that we can honor and worship Jesus in all the little things we do each day. How are we treating those we come in contact with throughout our day? Are we treating them with the upmost respect that is due them as a person created in the image of God? Have we embraced Jesus’ teaching on loving our neighbors? What gift can we bring this season? The gift of kindness, mercy, and love. May we strive to live our lives in such a way that our identity as Jesus followers is evident to all who see us, and may our little acts of love and worship touch God’s heart.