I remember the first time I played in an orchestra and experienced the sense of exhilaration it brought to me. It was another God-given gift so powerfully expressed in the wonderment of sound and the feelings it evoked. When I play my cello, my emotions go somewhere else, someplace otherworldly, sometimes beautiful, sometimes heroic, sometimes gentle, a myriad of emotional destinations, however brief. The joy that it gives me is unexplainable and leaves me destitute to express. The creative overlap between musicians, births a symbiotic flow creating tension and release in the music. Each Sunday springs a spiritual refreshment, with a new creative opportunity, both individually and corporately.
We are so blessed to have leaders who are willing to bring musicians together to lead the congregation in worship. These men and women are extraordinary servants who give their best to us each week in no small measure. Weekly, our leaders contend with schedules, last minute changes in the service, personnel, the listening, selecting and preparing appropriate titles from the milieu of church music, discerning the theological disposition of texts, special seasonal programs, not to mention, constantly being thrown into the theater of elation and sorrow in the lives of individual members.
I’m sure that we could find so many things that could be improved in the church orchestra world. Better this; better that… better if they did things my way. At 66 years of age, I just don’t have enough energy anymore for critiquing. I find that most of any discontentment I have, comes from my own issues and not those of any leader or musician. In these days of my life, I understand more and more gratefulness is the best elixir for discontent. This is a tremendous opportunity for us. We are ambassadors, making a plea on behalf of the King Who sent us. Our message is to proclaim the Word of our King. It is not about our great ability, musicality or deep insight that we gather together as a church orchestra, but solely for the purposes of God and God alone. We assemble to honor our God for who He is and what He has done. It is all in how we view it really.
And for what are we grateful? I can begin with thankfulness for those who have poured into me, the gifts that God has given them, and thus enriched my life. This gift of music, whatever form and to whatever measure it is given…let’s be grateful. There is no greater music than the music emanating from the Body of Christ when in a surrendered synchronization.
So onward we go each Sunday, being thankful and gracious participants, with our sole intent to serve the Word of God. From the writer of the text being served by the one who writes the music, then the arranger/orchestrators enhancing the writer’s work, the choir and orchestra serve by bringing the songs to life so the congregation can hear the Word of God clearly. When God’s Word is heard, Isaiah 55:11 conveys a most glorious result.
“So My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” (HCSB)
So let us be continually voracious in our efforts to encourage our leaders, their assistants, fellow musicians and pastoral staff. It is with this support, that our leaders are inspired to give their best, thus fanning a beautiful flame that warms the hearts of the congregation, and visitors alike. It really does not take much effort; just a simple “thank you” or “good job” will suffice. As G.B. Stern said so well, “Silent gratitude isn’t much worth to anyone.” Love on your leaders and fellow musicians. Bless them… pray for them… often. We all need to be encouraged from time to time, don’t we?
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer
Greg Nelson is a Christian songwriter, producer and musician. He has produced recordings and written for Christian artists over the past 40 years. Nelson was involved in the development of LifewayWorship.com and the latest Baptist Hymnal. Greg and his wife, Pam Nelson, live in Franklin, Tennessee and have two children, Sarah and her husband Damian Mingle, and their son, Benjamin and his wife, Emily. Now retired, life for the Nelsons now centers on their three granddaughters, Georgia Corene, Magnolia Blythe and Tessa Evangeline.
Currently, Nelson is at work as an author on a new book, and recently finished a commissioned choral work for St. Olaf College. He continues to mentor songwriters, producers and artists and speaks at various college campuses throughout the country.