Last night, while watching a youtube video of an acapella group singing The Little Drummer Boy, I had an ah-ha moment. The words of In the Bleak Midwinter have been running through my mind for days now, and the two combined for a little lesson for my soul. I hope to get it in writing before the ghost of the thing fades completely.
In my faith tradition, Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ. Not only the time we spend at the manger, admiring the babe, the angels who announced him, the shepherds who worshiped him, and the mother who bore him, but also the preparation for the second coming, when Christ will come as King of Kings and end the suffering, war and spiritual illness once and for all. The Lutheran church has centuries-old traditions that mark this time of waiting, like the lighting of the Advent candles to honor the light of the Love of God, incarnate in Christ, that shines in the darkness of winter, in the darkness of our separation from God.
Much has been made of the prophecies of the end times, but the Gospel of Mark reminds us that no one knows when Christ will come again in glory. For as long as I can remember, I have not understood the preoccupation with the end of the world. According to Yahoo Answer Man, 151 people die every second. For them, this world has come to an end. It will come for all of us.
Now, back to the ah-ha (did you wonder if I forgot that part?)-- it's simple really. Like the writer of In The Bleak Midwinter, we all come to the manger empty handed. The richest people on earth show up with same gifts to honor the babe, and the king, as the poorest. No mansions convey, no gold or jewels, fame or influence make it past our deathbeds. We only have our hearts to give. Laying our hearts before God happens now, in this season of life on earth. It happens when the wealthy give millions in aid to the poor, but it also happens when any one of us looks with compassion on another, seeking to give them hope by any act of kindness. It happens whenever voices are raised to fight injustice. The opportunities to give our hearts are endless, at our fingertips, ever before our eyes and our conscience. No gift of time and effort and love is less worthy than the bequest of a huge monetary gift. We are all wealthy with gifts to give those in need. In the end, only kindness matters (sing it, Jewel!), and that is really good news for those of us who want to show up with a gift in our hands. Philanthropy, defined as love for humanity, is an equal opportunity employer. And it is our only gift to give that lasts beyond our lifetime.
I played my drum for him, pa rum pa pa pum. I played my best for him, pa rum pa pa pum....then he smiled at me, pa rum pa pa pum, me and my drum.
What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. What can I give him? Give him my heart.