Somewhere in my collection of stories for which I have forgotten the source, there is the illustration about Sydney Lanier.
Lanier was an American poet and musician. He was a flutist of extraordinary skill who played for the symphony orchestra of Baltimore. According to the story, during a dress rehearsal for a symphony concert, Lanier was playing the little flute as part of a huge buildup to a magnificent crescendo of music.
Everyone played during the crescendo -- the drums, the trumpets, the trombones and the cymbals. They brought in an organ to swell the sound. So Lanier sat there and thought, "I'm just playing a little flute. I bet if I didn't blow it, no one would notice." When the time came for the crescendo, he put the flute to his lips, pretended to play it, but didn't blow.
Immediately, the conductor beat the baton on the stand in front of him. He brought the entire orchestra to a screeching halt, and he pointed to Sydney Lanier and said, "Where's the flute?" Lanier hadn't counted on the sensitivity of the conductor and his awareness of what was missing in the great harmony of the orchestra.
Sometimes, even as Christians we might feel that way about our contributions in service and stewardship. We think that what we do is so small and unimportant that it wouldn't be missed. We're tempted to doubt our impact in the total ministry of the church of Jesus Christ. We can look at complicated world problems and feel like we can do nothing about it or that God does not care.
But we need to know that when we deny our importance, minimize our gifts or downplay our ability to help, we are keeping God's harmonious plans from their completion. Not having the flute, not having your involvement, disrupts the fullness and richness that God intends for the church and for the world.
September is a good month to think about your place and participation in God's music of life. The chords of love that you share as you help to make your community a better place to live, the time you spend with a struggling youth, a child hungry for attention or an elderly neighbor all adds to the music of God's symphony.
Your place in a worship service, the charitable checks you write, the attitudes you act upon, the political votes you will make to encourage and uplift the poor, the prayers you share, the letters you write, the causes for justice that you support, all of it is listened for, by God the great conductor.
What is God hearing from you? You are a precious instrument. So hear the invitation again, that you are not only welcomed, you are loved and desired by God, without exception. Make your sound heard, to the glory of God in the symphony of God's new creation.
God has put the notes of love within you. Join with others in a faith community and together you can make music with assurance and joy! Make a joyful noise to God our savior.
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