National Day of Service
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Long ago, I was taught that to give of yourself was the greatest gift a person could give. How fitting that we, as a nation, observe Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's National Day of Service during the liturgical season of Epiphany, a feast of giving.
Epiphany is a Christian observance that marks the time when the Magi found the infant, Jesus. They brought special gifts, believing as astrologers did in those days, that the new star they had found heralded the birth of a king.
In learning the story of the Magi as a girl, I remember wondering about the juxtaposition of the lowly shepherds to the Wise Men from the East. While it was quite splendid that the Wise Men were able to bring such amazing gifts as frankincense, myrrh and gold, it really wasn't that much of a sacrifice for them. In comparison, the humble gift of lambs from the shepherds was much more precious.
I struggled, as a child, with making sense of the idea of "giving of yourself" until I heard the story of the Little Drummer Boy. In the story, the little child, who had nothing to give the new born infant, realizes that he can play his drum for him.
Then I heard the beautiful song by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, which is based on Christina Rossetti's poem, "What Shall I Give Him." The last line is, "Give him my heart."
Giving from the heart is crux of the National Day of Service.
Each of us can give from the heart on this day of service. While there will be those who will serve through joining soup kitchens, giving out clothing to those in need of warm clothes, running blood drives or working to build homes for the homeless, there are others whose gifts will practically go unnoticed. These are the gifts of a kind word, a door held, a hand given, a gentle touch or a simple smile. These are all gifts we can give in service to others regardless of who we are or how much money we have.
May the dreams of the Rev. Dr. King come to fruition through the simple acts of service given on the National Day of Service and throughout the year ahead.