The Little Drummer Boy

December 13, 2017 by Carol Ann Smolka (Nashville, Tennessee)

Over the years, “The Little Drummer Boy” has become my absolute favorite Christmas song. I identify with the young man that worries about approaching this king he's heard about, but doesn't yet know. “I have no gift that's fit to give a king,” says the little drummer boy. Or in my case, as a 4-year-old little girl who has just learned how to play piano, because she saw Mr. Rogers do it and became absolutely obsessed. My first performance was on Christmas Eve in front of 300 people at Churchill United Methodist Church in Youngstown, Ohio. I learned “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” from a beginner piano book. The book was deep blue with an illustration of the animals surrounding the manger, and a bright light shining up from where the baby Jesus lay. At the time, it never crossed my mind that my gift wasn't fit for a king, because as a child, Jesus was above all else, my friend. Which, is why he came down in the first place, isn't it? He left the throne to become king of our hearts; to become part of our lives; to tear the curtain in two, to be near to us, and to become deeply involved in our lives in more than just a legalistic way. 

A healthy amount of fear in hoping to please the Lord is a wonderful thing I think. As children, we simply want to make God proud of us. As musicians, we experience healthy fear all the time in wanting to give God and other listeners a pleasant experience. But too much fear, and we are left paralyzed. We are left unable or perhaps unwilling to get our hands dirty in the Lord's work; unable to speak God’s truth and joy. Because as adults, we know, our gift will simply never be enough after all Christ has given us.  

Even last night, I was burning the midnight oil, agonizing over whether my words and my voice would be adequate to share in The Upper Room Chapel. The truth is, as adults, we know we will never be enough on our own. But, I have good news friends, very good news indeed. Jesus never asked you to be enough on your own. In fact, not only did he not ask you to be enough on your own, he would rather take the journey with you. He doesn't want us to go it alone. That's why we celebrate Christ’s coming. To remind ourselves, that we don't have to go it alone. That the debt has been paid. We don't owe anyone anymore, we don’t need to be enough.

So, play your best for him no matter what that means in your life. If it's a drum, or a guitar, or creating an expense report, or painting, or teaching, or preaching, or whatever it is that God has given you the gift to do. Play your best for him. And make him smile. Because at the end of the day, that's all he asks of us — our best. Amen.


Carol Ann Smolka shared this meditation in The Upper Room's worship service on December 6. Carol Ann is the team assistant for Young People’s Ministries of The United Methodist Church. "I love that I have been able to call Nashville home for four years now and I’m ecstatic to have found my work family at Young People’s Ministries. When I’m not at work you can find me writing music, singing, blogging, reading, taking photographs, making beeswax candles, or learning a new skill. I enjoy creating art in many different mediums, but music is by far my favorite. I love to make people laugh and feel loved!"


If you are in the Nashville area, we invite you to visit The Upper Room Chapel

Wednesday Worship Services

Every Wednesday
10:45 -11:30 AM CST

1908 Grand Avenue
Nashville, Tennessee 37212

1-877-899-2780, Ext 7207

Chapel is wheelchair accessible.


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