12 Days of Christmas Memories: Serving Others

xmas 1992

How have you used your God-given gifts to serve others?

As a high school student I had the opportunity to serve others with music.  I loved learning to play the flute.  My mom learned to play the harp at the same time, and she came up with the idea of a music ministry in local nursing homes and hospitals.

We played hymns because that’s what elderly people liked to hear.  I chose hymns with a nice harmony line, old favorites like “In the Garden,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  I can still sing the alto part of most hymns from memory thanks to all that practice.

My favorite hymns to play were Christmas songs.  “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” made the best harmony.  “O, How A Rose E’er Blooming” was suited perfectly for harp and flute.  “Silent Night” was the perennial crowd favorite.

I remember lugging the harp around St. Francis hospital one cold weeknight in December 1993.  We crammed into elevators and dodged workers to find a place to set up.  I was a little cranky—hungry, tired, with a little homework still left.  I felt awkward—usually we played in the front of a large room with people watching, but that night we stood in a hallway outside someone’s hospital room, with nurses and carts passing by.  I wasn’t in much of a mood to perform that night.

Mom went in the room and talked to the family.  She came back out and said we should play a few songs.  Reluctantly I began playing.  The acoustics in the hallway seemed to carry my flute’s song much further than I expected.  I felt embarrassed, out of place.

After we finished, one of the visitors stepped out of the room to speak to Mom.  She said her loved one had been very sick, and it hadn’t even felt like Christmas until she heard us play.

On the way home I thought about what that woman said.  For weeks I had played those Christmas hymns over and over, and quite frankly I was a little tired of hearing them.  But when she heard our songs, she felt the peace of Christmas in the midst of her sadness.

As a fifteen-year-old I didn’t understand; I hadn’t yet experienced a loved one’s sickness at Christmas.  Yet I knew I had felt excited about Christmas for weeks, and I couldn’t imagine someone else not feeling excited about it.  I was glad to be able to give a stranger the peace of Christmas.

I don’t know exactly why Mom scheduled all those performances during my high school years.  Maybe it was to keep me out of trouble; maybe it was so we could spend time together.  Maybe it was to teach me the value of serving others with my talents.  Whatever the reason, the lesson of serving others stuck with me.  Now I want to teach my children to serve others with their talents year-round.


Which of your talents can you use to serve others?

In what way can you help your children serve others with their talents?

Blessings to you, Sarah

P.S. Today is Day 5 of 12 Days of Reader Tips for Christmas Peace.  Be sure to leave a comment on my related Facebook post with your tip!