On the first Sunday in Advent, we asked the Lord to stir up His power, that is, to agitate Himself, in order to come to us. That is a bit of a dangerous prayer. We qualify it, to be sure, asking that His power be put to use in rescuing and protecting us, but, nonetheless, if God stirs Himself up, there will be consequences. This God to whom we pray is the Holy God that struck down Babel and sent plagues to Egypt. He will come out of the East on a white horse leading an army of destruction.
However, we are not slaves. We are sons. Our God is not a far off God, but has joined Himself to us as one of us. We are bold because we belong to Him and we trust His promises.
The classic, kitschy Christmas song, “The Little Drummer Boy,” exemplifies the boldness that belongs to us as children of God. In terms of text and tune, “The Little Drummer Boy” is about as sappy as it gets, but it is the sort of thing that only Christianity could imagine. Only the light of God’s gracious purpose in becoming a Man could enable the sort of story where God Almighty would have the patience and interest to listen to a little boy banging on a drum, and even go so far as to think that He might even enjoy it and receive it as a love offering.
The false god of the Muslims demands the death of anyone who draws a picture of him. How would the most powerful men in our world respond to the tuneless banging of a child? How have you responded to your own children and grandchildren and the noise they bring, tuneless or not?
Christianity is bold because God is love. We do not mistake His patience for weakness. We trust in His mercy. We do not ask Him to stir Himself up because He seems to have forgotten about us. Rather, we ask it because we are prone to forgetting Him. He is the One who counts the hairs on our heads. He does not get bored and He neither slumbers nor sleeps. He does more than lay down His life for a good man. He lays down the life of His Son for sinners. Here is cause for boldness. Our gifts are worthless, and yet we are rightly confident that He loves them, as He loves us, anyway.
The classic, kitschy Christmas song, “The Little Drummer Boy,” exemplifies the boldness that belongs to us as children of God.
This boldness is evident throughout Christianity. Think of how Abraham and Moses bargained with God and Job dared to complain. Think of the martyrs standing before emperors unafraid. Or think of the opening versicles of Matins. “Make haste” sounds polite, but it is a command. It means “hurry up.” That is a bold thing for a sinner to say to God. But what child ever thought that His Father wouldn’t want to be with him or listen to him sing and watch him dance? We are the children of God. We know He loves us.
Our prayers, and maybe even our schmaltz, are often like a child asking his father to check the closet and under the bed before he turns off the light for the night. Sometimes it is just a ritual. We just don’t want our Dads to leave us alone. Sometimes it is driven by real fear. Earthly fathers are inclined to go through the motions, but our heavenly Father does more. He listens carefully to our concerns and requests. He is not put off by our weaknesses or fears, nor does He have better things to do. He does more than go through the motions: He drives off the demons and stays with us through the night.
He is Almighty, but that might serves mercy and is hidden in humility. He is tolerant and indulgent of His children. If we want to bang on some pans or put on a plotless, nearly endless puppet show, He will watch with delight. But He is still every inch of a King. Indeed, He is King of kings and Lord of lords. We are bold in our prayers because He is good. We know His character and trust His promises. And we’d like Him to hurry up and bring us home.
Photo: LCMS Communications/Roy S. Askins