By Kevin Tomkies
When I was growing up, the story of the birth of Jesus was told in two ways. The story told at my church during the candle light service and during Advent, and the other told through the animated TV shows by Rankin/Bass Productions and Lee Mendelson Films. The TV shows where not available anywhere but on TV, came only once a year and was the exciting sign that I would soon be out of school and presents were hidden somewhere in the house. I’m speaking of the animated shows like “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and the “Charlie Brown Christmas”. All of them took time and effort from variously skilled people. These skills had to have ranged from people making the coffee to the animaters themselves. One that stands out is “The Little Drummer Boy”. I always appreciated Linus’s speech and seeing Snoopy, but this show was more, much more. Not only does the title song stop me in my tracks during the holidays, but it was about a courageous small boy, from a far away place, that amused the new born king, even when he thought that he had no gift to bring. This boy was no professional musician, didn’t have a full drum set and by no means was this a professional gig (“The Stable Tour”). Instead, this young boy saw a need, did what needed to be done by playing a simple song and we still sing about it to this day. No grueling encore, no security team, he just did what he could and was natural for him.
I struggle with how he must have felt a lot, both professionally and personally. When I first came to St Alban’s in 2005, I would sit quietly in the pew and wonder, what is needed to become “a reader” or what special stuff do you have to do to work up at the alter and wear a robe. I was an acolyte when I was a kid, I’m loud and I can read, I can do this. Oh yeah, I’m not ordained, was raised Methodist, and I hate my voice. I could be called into work, was going to soon volunteer as a scout leader, had a new house and no time. Money was tight too, but when I tithed, it wasn’t enough. I asked if I could lead bible study but knew that I had no skills for that. So, I continued for some time, just sitting and wondering. Then one day, one of the parishioners (RIP Pete Lowder) asked if I would like to be a lector. Finally, my chance. I loved it, something to give back. Later, I became a chalice bearer. Now, fast forward to 2020 when the pandemic hit. The church had a new challenge that we had not faced before. No way to hold services and the Jeffrey Mansion kids needed a place to be. Long story short, I did things to help the church and all its parishioners. I listened and I learned and applied skills I’ve learned over the years. These ranged from replacing the hook in a key lock box to well, bigger things. As you can see, these varied in skill, time and effort, but a way back that was not always monetary, as well, “the show must go on” as I was taught in my early days of the theater.
The last year has brought many hardships, blessings and a time of great upheaval around the world. Stewardship is not just about the giving of money, but also about the gift’s each and everyone can bring. Anyone can make a drum as you actually don’t even need a drum, you just need your hands and something to tap on. You don’t even need rhythm. Just play from the heart, do what sounds good to you and what you do. Not a drummer? How about spoons, hum or a little singing. The Church needs funds to pay the employees, utility bills and keep the lights on, but it also needs the talents of those who flip the switches, set the chairs, tend to the church grounds, take leadership roles and as well as other jobs. I encourage each and everyone, young or old, look for opportunities the give your time and talents. There are plenty of ways to use known and learn new skills in anything the Spirit is calling you to. Find your courage, and play your drum… Pa rum pum pum pum…