How to Play Your Note in the Kingdom of God

I took my boys to the Christmas concert at church on Sunday afternoon, our first time going. At four and six years old, I hoped they could sit through an hour of beautiful musical performances.


They burned off some extra energy at the reception beforehand, running around the tables with their little friends and sneaking more sugar cookies while they thought I wasn’t looking. When it was time for the concert, we filed into the main sanctuary, past poinsettias and wreaths and white tinkle lights. Henry pointed at the giant harp onstage, past the musicians warming up, “Look mommy, a harp! A real one!”

The place was crowded, the audience a sea of red and green sweaters and gray hair. We wedged ourselves in the middle of a pew halfway to the back. The boys busied themselves with scribbling on the back of the programs, and the choir members took their seats on stage.

Right on time, the orchestra started their performance of “Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major” by Mozart. The pianist was incredible, and was accompanied by cellos, violins, flutes, and that real harp. The effect was beautiful, the music swelling up to the rafters. Right at the end of the piece a single note was played on the triangle, distinct from all the others. It rang clear and bright, adding a solitary spark of magic to the concerto.

I craned my neck to see where it came from. There on the left, by the drums, stood a woman with the triangle still in her hand. Her back was to the wall and she was dressed in dark colors like the other musicians. She never played the triangle again during the performance; the piece only called for one note.

I thought a lot about the Triangle Lady, as I had dubbed her, during the rest of the Christmas concert in between shushing my boys and watching other performances. Did she have to go to every rehearsal? Was it boring standing still for more than ten minutes before she could contribute her one note to the piece? Did she wish she was the talented harpist instead or even the pianist himself? Did her family and friends take her seriously as a musician when her instrument was as simple as the triangle? Was she aware of the impact of her one little note upon the whole piece of music?

Her part in the performance reminds me a lot of my role in the Kingdom of God. I am still learning that every note counts, big or small. I may not be called to be the star pianist on stage, or even the first violinist. The small tasks of my every day life, though not exciting or glamorous by any measure, are nevertheless important when done in the kind of self-sacrificial love that God calls us to.

Picking up a neighbor’s child from school, grabbing an extra jar of peanut butter for the food drive, talking to the newcomer at church, driving a coworker to her appointment, doubling that batch of cookies to share with a struggling friend… it all counts as beautiful in the symphony of the Kingdom of God. You don’t have to have a stage or a following or a book deal or a household name to matter.

Being faithful in the smallest acts of service, even when it feels hard or inconvenient, even when your feet hurt from standing as you wait to play your one small triangle note, is what we are all called to do. In the mundane, in the routine, in the downright drudgery of our everyday, let’s be on the lookout for ways to love one another. And in so doing, the glorious sound of the Kingdom of God will rise to the rafters, each of us playing our notes to the tune of His love in our lives.

Christmas PINS


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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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