Welcome, welcome, students new and old! It's time for last minute adjustments to schedules and music! I am so excited about our new class year! Stay tuned for more news and information about our goals for the upcoming season. In the meantime, ask yourself --"who once said: 'Is there not a cause...?'."
It's one of those "I can see all of the notes, but I'm not hearing the music" kind of days. Attending to the huge pile of details that overwhelm my to-do list on a Monday is kind of like looking at the notes of the cello part in Halvorsen's "Passacaglia" for the first time.
Putting the music right side up is the easy part. I can usually accomplish that detail on any given day---seeing the potential, the way things can and should be done! I am generally a hopeful person. So, Carpe diem, and all that!!!
But my day, like the music, quickly goes from "largamente" (slow with breadth) half notes to "Con agilita" (with agility) 16th and 32nd note constructions and ultimately to "Allegro con fuoco" (very fast and fiery) with insane super-octave leaps rife with double-stops in fortiss-ISS-imo. Sight reading through such a piece (or such a day) can be a nightmare. I have to step back and imagine the music that the execution of all of these details is meant to produce. I have to remind myself that I can't do it alone---(the Passacaglia is a duet!), and that, to hear the beautiful result, I must master my own notes and dynamics and phrasing and combine them with those of others. Above all, I must remember that the determined battle with the details is supposed to eventually result in freedom: freedom to produce and hear beautiful music, whether from my cello or out of my relationships with Christ and the others I share my day with.
"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I [Jesus] speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
The details of my life have a goal beyond just making it to the end of the day in one piece. As a believer in Christ, I am privileged to find in His Word the words to address every responsibility and task I face, and at the same time experience the beauty of the larger purpose surrounding my life: the beautiful music of heaven emanating like a symphony from God and His people. It's called believing. It's knowing that the song is Christ's, and following His words get me to the essence of the music of real life.
Now, back to practice. I mean, my to-do list.
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
I asked the Wednesday afternoon class what they thought "the sacrifice of praise" meant. Daniel was ready with an answer today: "It means not praising yourself but praising God."
Sometimes "singing with grace in your hearts to the LORD", singing and making music with God's people, the body of Christ, requires a sacrifice. When we worship with music we may not get to sing the hymns we like, or the style we prefer, with the quality we expect or with the people we want. We may think we have the right to opt out because we don't sound as good as everyone else or we have a compelling reason not to sing. Fact is, the sacrifice God wants you to bring to His altar is your most excellent music, the fruit of your lips proclaiming love for the Christ whose word dwells in you richly. That means sacrificing your pride! He wants you to praise Him, not yourself. He wants to hear many voices singing with abandon, sacrificing themselves and their preferences, giving their most excellent in order to praise Him with one heart and one voice. In this way we bring each other toward the best we have so we can give it freely and creatively to the Father.
Well said, Daniel.