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Good morning. Thanks for coming back! Last week we started a short Woman’s Bible Study Lesson series entitled, ‘The Symphony of God,’ by looking at how the role of a conductor in an orchestra is akin to Jesus. The conductor leads the orchestra and is intimately familiar both with the music (the gospel message) and the part each musician (Christians… the body of Christ) plays in the symphony– God’s masterpiece. This week we will take a closer look at the musicians in the orchestra– and how our role is vitally important to the functioning of the group– body– as a whole.
The Symphony of God: Woman’s Bible Study Lessons
One of my all time favorite pieces of music is Dvorak’s New World Symphony. It is seriously one of the most uplifting pieces of music I have ever heard or had the honor to play (only to be outdone by Mahler’s Titan Symphony). Did you know that in this 45 minute masterpiece, the tuba has a very small–but important– part to play? The tuba plays for exactly 1 minute– 17 notes to be exact. It plays the same note 17 times in the second movement of the New World Symphony. You may wonder why Dvorak even bothered to include the tuba. Well, as the creator of this masterpiece, Dvorak had a small but vital role for the tuba to play.
The thing is, which each orchestral masterpiece the composer weaves different melodies, harmonies, counterpoint, and rest (yes, rest) together in a very deliberate fashion. The orchestra is made up of different members with vastly different roles– and these roles change depending on what is required of the music in front of them at that moment. Strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion– all instruments and all musicians in an orchestra play a unique role in performing the music composer’s music.
- In Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev, each character in the story is represented by a different instrument.
- In Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, the new day is ushered in with the sound of the chimes.
- Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man features one of the most famous orchestral trumpet solos of all time.
It is remarkable really– the conductor lifts his baton and over 100 musicians, each playing different parts, with vastly different instruments, come together with a single purpose to play beautiful music that not only entertains and edifies the audience, but each of the musicians as well.
There is a kinship among musicians who play together. Even if the violinist doesn’t know the name of the principle oboe, for the duration of the performance, each member of the orchestra speaks a common language. Each musician is bound together and focused on a singular purpose– the play the composer’s masterpiece as well as they possibly can.
The orchestra is only as strong as the weakest player. That principle is true for any group project. Each instrument, each musician has a part to play. The composer wrote a part each instrument’s unique attributes in mind. The music was composed for the entire orchestra, not just the ‘flashiest’ instruments. Additionally, during the performance, the orchestra will be judged as a whole. When the playing stops and the audience either applauds or boos, they will applaud or boo the orchestra– not each individual musician. The phenomenal soloist may have a larger part to play, but if the horn plays out of tune, or the clarinet is too fast, their mistakes will undoubtedly have an impact on the overall effectiveness of the orchestra’s mission.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. ~I Corinthians 12: 12-27 (NIV)
What does all of this mean to the body of Christ?
- There are no ‘nobodies’ in the body of Christ. Do not underestimate your importance to God. He created you and designed you to fulfill a unique role in the masterpiece that is His symphony (the gospel message).
- Conversely, do not overestimate your importance to the body of Christ. You may be the featured soloist, but you still need the other musicians. Even a virtuoso violinist needs accompaniment support in order for their performance to have maximum impact.
- The body of Christ thrives on diversity:
- As symphonic music evolved, more instruments were included in orchestral works. As a result, the music of Beethoven and Mahler tends to have a richer sound than the music of Bach (not to take anything away from Bach… but he never wrote music for the tuba because the tuba likely didn’t exist). So to with the body of Christ.
- Each new Christian adds a richness, something new to offer, new talents, new experiences. If utilized properly, this experience can enhance the overall effectiveness of the gospel.
- Just as many instruments play the same piece of music, each Christian is to be focused on Christ resurrected, regardless of the unique role played in the church.
- There are many areas to serve, but there is only one leader– Jesus Christ. Just as there is only one conductor and every musician fixes their eyes on him (or her), there is only one head of the church– Jesus Christ.
- There are many people in the body of Christ, but we all have one mission– to glorify God (and in that to spread the gospel).
What is our responsibility as a musician in God’s symphony?
- Come to rehearsal. Show up! Fellowship with other believers. Be involved in their lives and let them be involved in yours. You can’t be expected to play well together if you never ‘rehearse’ the music together.
- Practice! Read your Bible. Devote yourself to prayer and meditation. Serve.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Devote yourself to performing your part to the best of your ability.
Finally, ask yourself these questions:
- What part do I play in the body of Christ?
- What are some ways I can serve?
- How can I use the gifts and talents given to me by God to His glory?
- Why is it important that I not stop playing my part?
Thank you so much for joining me this week! Stick around and check out some of the Thoughtful Thursday links (or add your link).
Have a blessed week and Happy 4th of July!