CCD Spotlight Blog

The Gifts We Bring

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As we entered Advent a few years ago, the music playing as I decorated my tree drew my attention and made me pause.  

The Little Drummer Boy, a traditional arrangement I’d been listening to since I was small, shared the story of one person’s story among many going to worship the Christ child.  

The song begins: Come, they told me, a new born king to see. Who wouldn’t be excited to be included for this adventure? How many kings does anybody meet in a lifetime, let alone a brand new one? It’s an invitation you can’t really refuse.  

Those who have already accepted the invitation remember to mention an important detail for the people they are encouraging to join them: Our finest gifts we bring to lay before the king, so,to honor him, when we come. They are saying that, if you are coming with us, this is what we are doing and why we are doing it.  

The Little Drummer Boy is a bit taken aback, I suspect, when he thinks he doesn’t have anything to present to the king they are going to see, let alone something grand enough to equal what the others ahead of him have already planned to give in honor of his birth.  

Yet, he figures it out.  

Image via Tim Mossholder on

The boy’s drumming is his finest gift, the best he has of himself to offer someone who seems a lot like him, but is destined to live a very different life. I like to imagine him softly playing his music, making it both worthy of a king, and gentle enough for a newborn making his way through his first hours of life.  

I believe that most, if not all of us, are quite like this small boy, wanting to be included in this adventure, but also knowing it required something of him he may not know or understand how to give. I also believe that is part of the gift itself, the zig zagging road that teaches us endurance, character, strength, compassion and good will in accordance with the faith necessary to persevere, no matter what.  

The beauty of this song is that the boy decided to take the risk, to step on the road to the adventure, not having figured it all out, but willing to figure it out as he went along.    

While we don’t know what the others traveling with him gave, it wouldn’t be a surprise to discover that they shared tangible riches that were unobtainable to the hero of our story. He would have known that, and that he may end up looking very foolish if that was the general assumption of appropriate giving.  

There’s nothing in this song about any judgment against him because he didn’t have riches to present the king. But as human beings, it is easy to judge ourselves by comparison with others whom we think have more than us.    

When his turn comes to present his gift, he doesn’t compare himself to the others, but simply sees the baby before him, and sees himself in him. They are both poor boys, and he trusts that another poor boy will appreciate what he is giving from the best of who he is.

As we move more deeply into the Great Mystery of Advent, my best gift to you is to trust yourself as God’s own, and to value what you would like to share with God through this wonderful creation, just as God cherishes your generosity in doing so.    

About the author

Corey Kemp

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.

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