Thursday, February 21, 2013


It began as an act of encouragement and a show of support. Michael, the fine music director at the church I am blessed to serve, is in the Doctor of Musical Arts at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.  "in partial fulfillment of the requirements' for that degree, he gave a lecture recital last night. He has been so supportive of me and so encouraging, that I wanted to be there.

Having never been to one of these lecture recitals, I wasn't sure what the experience might be. Oh, I learned. The lecture portion explained a period of time and a form of music with which I was not familiar. I learned about a composer whose name I had heard before, but I don't think I had ever heard a piece of music from. I learned about the role music played in the Protestant Reformation.

Then, the musicians and vocalists took their places, Michael went to the podium, and the concert began, Dieterich Buxtehude's 'Membra Jesus Nostri.'

And something happened . . . to me.

What began as an act of encouragement became a time of worship. Like many ministers, I find it hard to worship while leading worship (that's why I like to go away to the Abbey of Gethsemani, I can worship there). But last night, a lecture and recital became liturgy; the voices became the heavenly chorus; the instrumentalists were the glorious sounds of creation; and the text, the text became God's word to me. I don't know if you are familiar with this work or not, but one of the glorious stanzas said this:
    That I may seek you with a pure heart.
    Be my first care,
    It is no labor nor shall I be loaded down:
    But I shall be cleansed,
    When I embrace you.

If we are lucky, moments and emotions and a spirit like last night take place in our weekly worship. But if we notice, worship is also that gift offered throughout our lives,

when a lunch with a friend becomes a sacrament;

when a walk in the woods with a child or grandchild evokes songs about creation;

when a quiet evening with our partner turns into a holy conversation;

when a prayer in a hospice leads us into the throne room of the New Jerusalem.

© 2013 Thom M. Shuman

No comments: