This is part of a series of reflections on the Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Maker of Heaven and Earth
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary;
suffered under Pontius Pilate
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell,
The third day, He rose from the dead.
He ascended into heaven,
And sitting on the right hand of God the Father almighty
from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic Church
The communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting. Amen.
There are two lines in the Apostles’ Creed that deal with the Virgin Birth. This is an aspect of the Christian faith that causes many to be embarrassed, after all, how can someone in modern times believe in a virgin birth?
However, it is important that we remember that in this creed we have already affirmed that God is the maker of all things. (the Nicene creed will go even further, following the first chapter of John in the claim that all things were made through Jesus). If God exists, and if he is the maker of all things, including humanity, then it is logical that such a God may create a human being apart from sexual reproduction. This is exactly the claim that is made when Christians affirm that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
The virgin birth was part of the prophesy of a coming messiah, or Christ. Isaiah made the prophesy to King Ahaz:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 ESV)
The prophecy given to Ahaz is vast. It includes his own undoing, but then reaches far out into the future and proclaims that a virgin will give birth to a son, and that son may be called “God With Us” (translation of Immanuel)
There are some that point to the vagueness of the Hebrew ‘almah as perhaps only meaning a young woman and thus reducing this claim to perhaps any child. However, where the Hebrew may mean “virgin” or “young woman” it is clear from he Septuagint (parthenos) that the understanding here was of a miraculous, virgin birth.
However, all of the linguistic and theological wrangling over the notion of a virgin birth can cause us to miss the even greater miracle foreseen here: God with us!
The promise of messiah is more than just a righteous ruler, but rather God joining his creation in order to reconcile and restore it. The coming of the Christ would not just be miraculous for the sake of proof, but miraculous for the sake of His mission.
In the birth of Jesus something was set in motion: a plan to reconcile God’s people to himself. It is a miracle wider than the very division stuck between God and Humanity. Now the end of the division is in sight, for the promised one is born!
The subject of my most hated Christmas song comes up every year. To hate any traditional Christmas song will immediately lead to suspicions that I am the Grinch, I know, but I hate so many songs, that there is bound to be a Christmas song or two.
Knowing full well, that you may suspect that my heart is two sizes two small, I want to discuss The Little Drummer Boy. No, I do not dislike this song because of its historical inaccuracy. I’ll let that go since we are not actually discussing the theology of the Little Drummer Boy. I generally leave my historical criticisms at “who are all those white guys in the nativity scene?” No, it is not the twisting of history that bothers me; it is the message. Yes, I hate the message of that song.
If you have spent much time in church, you know what a horrible temptation a microphone can be. Every church has at least one person that, if not properly restrained, will desire to serve the Lord with the one gift He has not given them: song. Lack of talent will not stop this person, for it is not the Lord they are after but the wonderful attention that only a microphone brings. How many songs have been butchered? How many wonderful worship moments have been ruined because one person decided that was the time and place to belt an off-key rendition of whatever sappy quasi-spiritual country song happens to be popular that week? That person, my friends, is the Little Drummer Boy.
I cannot imagine a single woman appreciating a small child banging his drum around her newborn baby. Yet, the Little Drummer Boy seems to think it is perfectly acceptable for him to torture the eardrums of Mary, Joseph, some humble shepherds, and the infant Jesus.
Now, some will say that the song is not about that at all. They will plead with me that the Little Drummer Boy plays his drum because it is his talent, his gift. It is all he has to give to Jesus. They will argue that the Little Drummer Boy sets an example for us all by giving his talents to the Lord.
I agree. If that is what the Little Drummer Boy does, then he is setting a fine example. However, that only holds true IF the Little Drummer Boy can actually play the drums. However, if he cannot play the drums; if that is not his gift; then all he is showing is an example of selfish pride. And I submit to you that the Little Drummer Boy is no drummer at all.
Consider for a moment what a drummer does. At the core of his art, the drummer has one function: to keep time. That is what a drummer does. In fact, a drummer can do nothing else at all if he cannot first keep the time. However, in the song, “The Little Drummer Boy” it clearly states that the “ox and lamb kept time.” If you are depending on the livestock to keep the beat, my friend, you are not a drummer.
The Little Drummer boy has secured his place in Christmas tradition on the basis that he could play the drums; that it is all he could do. In reality, he cannot. He is not a drummer. Playing the drums is not his gift to bring, but his own ego demanding attention. I say its high time we send him off to figure out what it is that he can do and stop that infernal racket!
Author, Parent, Husband, Christ-follower