Many years ago I took my twelve-year-old Sunday School class to a local nursing home where we had regularly been visiting an older man who had no family. On a bright sunny Sunday morning my class and I walked across the street from the chapel to visit him for the last time as I was moving the next week. It was December and the nursing home was in full regal. The tinsel and decorations were up and Christmas music filled the air. My class and I sat and talked with our friend for a while and then we gave him some gifts. He graciously accepted them then motioned to me to follow him to his room as he had a gift for us. My class of about ten youth and I piled into his tiny cramped quarters. The old man went directly to his small closet and pulled out, to my amazement, a violin. It was old and looked to be in need of repair. He smiled and started to tune it. I guess I had read the story of ”The Touch of the Master’s Hand” too often, because my mind started to conjure up images of this old man playing the violin like a professional. This was going to be a special treat, I thought.
Then he placed the violin under his chin and started to play. The notes didn’t float nor sound in tune, but they squeaked and pitched and fought the air. I grimaced! “Yikes”, I remember thinking. But the longer he played the more recognizable the song became. He was playing the hymn, ”I am a Child of God.” I don’t know what happened next for sure, but I think the master’s hand passed right over that violin and touched something much more important; my heart! As I watched the old man’s face shine, and listened to the rendition of that hymn on his violin, the caustic sound transformed into a perfect melody. I’ve heard and sung that hymn thousands of times over my lifetime. But only once have I experienced such power and beauty in its performance as I did that day. Yes, we had come to serve him but he had ended up serving us. What did the Savior teach us? “…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40) What I learned that day was that sometimes the “least of these my brethren”, end up teaching us powerful lessons about the attributes of Jesus Christ. I am sure that old gentlemen has long since left this earth. But his performance has lingered in my heart to this day, a testimony that the smallest gifts of service can last long after we have departed this life.