It’s Christmas (still, barely), so I feel compelled to talk about Doctor Who. OK, not compelled so much as this is yet another excuse to talk about Doctor Who. I mean, Christmas, Doctor Who, they kind of go together. And being a bit of a theologian, I’m drawn to Doctor Who (the Doctor is VERY popular at my seminary), because there’s just so much theology in Doctor Who. And it being Twelfth Night and all, I’ve been thinking about “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (the song) and the twelve drummers drumming, so naturally, I was thinking about “The Sound of Drums” – one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes. An Easter episode. Wait, what?
Well, sure, Christmas, Easter, they sort of go together, don’t they? I mean, there are all those people who only go to church on Christmas or Easter. For those of you who are Jewish, that’s a lot like the Jews who only go to synagogue on the High Holidays. There are probably equivalents in other religions, but I’m not certain what they are. Beyond the cheekiness, however, there are some other links.
Advent leads up to Christmas, and Lent leads up to Easter. Both are times of preparation. Purple is used for both seasons. Oh, and there’s that foreshadowing thing. You know the one I mean – that whole thing where the magi give the baby Jesus myrrh. Myrrh? You say? Why yes. Myrrh was used as a funerary spice. Here are the magi saying, “We know what’s coming. You’re a king (gold), you’re the anointed One of God (frankincense), and there’s going to be this whole thing with a crucifixion and resurrection (myrrh).” There’s that verse that always disturbs people in “We Three Kings”:
Myrrh is mine: it’s bitter perfume
Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
I would also add, that since in Luke, the baby Jesus is placed in a manger, a feed trough, we could even look at that as foreshadowing of the Lord’s Supper. But that might be a little poky for some folks. So let’s get back to the drums. And the Doctor. I’m getting there.
As I was saying. Drums. Remember The Little Drummer Boy? A nice Christmas song. But as I’ve said already, the drums remind me more of Easter because of one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes. I say episode, but it’s really the second episode in a three-part story. It begins with “Utopia” when the Doctor and Martha Jones travel to the end of the universe with Captain Jack Harkness hanging on to the TARDIS. At the end of that episode, they discover the Doctor’s old nemesis, the Master, who steals the TARDIS and goes back to earth.
By the time the Doctor, Martha, and Jack get back to earth, the Master has been there for about 18 months, and has just been elected Prime Minister (in “The Sound of Drums”). In this episode, he manages to capture Martha’s family, the Doctor and Jack (Martha escapes), and he ages the Doctor to near-death. Eventually, Martha is able to travel around the world and spread the word about the Doctor, and through the power of prayer (essentially) the Doctor is resurrected. And then he…forgives the Master. Easter! Did I mention that I love this particular story? And not just because David Tennant is in it (although I will confess to happily watching anything that David Tennant is in).
It’s interesting to me that there is always a Doctor Who Christmas special. Also, whenever there is a new regeneration – a new Doctor, that tends to happen at Christmas. But Christmas is just part of the story. Christmas is the hope, the possibilities. Easter is the promise.
Epiphany is tomorrow. Then we enter ordinary time before Lent begins on March 5. Time and the world continue to be connected. We just keep on rolling.
The year ahead is full of possibilities and promise. May you march to the beat of the drummer that you hear. May the hope of Christmas be fulfilled for you in the promise of Easter. Here come the drums.
That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.