I look forward to Christmas music every Advent. Although I love traditional Christmas carols, I also find a sense of meaning when listening to more contemporary Christmas music. I don’t mean those songs that feature Santa or Rudolph, but ones that make you reflect on what Christmas is all about. This is the case when I listen to Enya’s Christmas album, And Winter Came. One of her songs, “One Toy Soldier”, is about a toy soldier that is broken. Although he was made to play for a little boy, his drum is “down by his side” and “his heart is oh, so blue”. From the toy’s perspective, we hear the cry “Who can mend my broken drum?/Will it be as good as new?/I must play when morning come./If I don’t, what shall I do?”
Maybe you feel like that toy soldier this Christmas. With the economic uncertainty, maybe you find your sense of purpose is missing. You may be working a job you don’t like just to make ends meet. Maybe you’re living with relatives because you can no longer afford to live on your own. Or maybe you are unable to find a job at all. Having recently returned to the United States from living overseas, that’s the situation I have found myself in – without a job and feeling that I have no ability to play my drum for which I was created. Wherever you find yourself vocationally this Advent season, you may feel that your hopes and dreams have been broken. As a result, your drum is down by your side, your heart is blue, and you’re unable to keep a steady beat.
But Advent reminds me that God himself became incarnate so that we might be reconciled to him. Since Advent ends with the Christ child in a manger, I often forget to celebrate that Jesus, as an adolescent and young adult, would himself have labored and worked! He was a carpenter for many years before he began his ministry. This raises questions in my mind: Did Jesus grow weary of his work, not just physically but mentally and emotionally? Did he ever wish he could be doing something more meaningful? Did he ever despair of finding work that would support him and his family? Because Scripture is silent on these points, I don’t have the answers. But we are told that after his parents found him in the temple “He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51). Although he desired to be in his Father’s house, he determined to be faithful in even the most mundane of tasks.
And because Jesus came to express solidarity with you and me, and to remind us that our purpose and calling is larger than our jobs, we can be sure to be faithful in whatever tasks we are doing this season. Thankfully, the song doesn’t end with a little boy waking up to a broken toy soldier. We are told that “When morning comes/He plays his drum” because during the night “Someone has come/To mend his drum/Now his heart lights up with pride.”
We, too, have Someone who has come to mend our broken drums of purpose and callings. We don’t play a rhythm solely of working to make ends meet or to support our family or even to make ourselves significant in the lives of others. We play a rhythm of glorifying God and being faithful in all things. So may this Advent season find you playing your drum with pride!