Monday, November 5, 2012

Lord make me an INSTRUMENT...

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing… – Psalm 98
What a privilege (photo from earlier in 2012)
Sunday mornings, at 8:30 worship, I enjoy the privilege of playing guitar with the Praise Band. I say privilege, because it’s really more of an orchestra than a band, and I’m lucky enough to play with real musicians.
Yesterday, for example, my acoustic guitar got to play along with bass guitar, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, drums, piano, clarinets, oboe, flute, violin, French horn, trombones, and trumpets (and a couple of other instruments but I lose count sometimes).
The balance of sound is really quite good.
Praise Band
MAINTENANCE: Once in a while, I need to replace my strings. So Sunday afternoon I removed the old ones and carefully cleaned the body of my guitar.
I love the blue tones of the soundboard, the rich woods in the fingerboard, the ornate sound-holes. My Ovation is a little worn through years of playing, but it’s a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and most certainly worth taking care of.
Then I carefully re-string, gradually tightening the strings in an even progression to keep the tension even across the bridge and the neck. Too fast, and a string can snap; too much change in tension and the soundboard or bridge can be compromised.
taking care of every detail
AND REPEAT: When I’m finished, I cut off the surplus, wipe the strings clean again, and tune one more time. I’ll have to repeat the tuning several times over the next couple of days until the strings complete their initial stretching.
Strings last longer if they’re wiped clean after every use, because sweat and oil from human skin is corrosive. They also need to be tuned before I play (and sometimes while I play) because even slight changes in temperature and humidity can cause a note to lose its purity.
before the strings are trimmed
AND THERE’S MORE: One more thing about getting the most out of a guitar: both the instrument and the player benefit from regular practice. Neither do well on the shelf.
This December, I’ll be sharing a powerful song as part of the music ministry Advent program: Joseph’s Lullaby, by Mercy Me.
It’s a difficult piece, so I’ve started to prepare already. My guitar needs the exercise; my voice needs the practice; my fingers need to become familiar with new patterns on the fretboard; the guitar, voice, and fingers all need to learn to work together.
All done (for now)
MY POINT: My point here is that the particular moment of worship on a Sunday morning is not the only moment of worship.
Worship is offered via preparation, changing out strings, cleaning guitar parts, care and maintenance of the soul, daily practice of the presence of God, tuning, re-tuning, fine-tuning and more.
When I sing Joseph’s Lullaby that December Sunday, it will simply be a continuation of the worship I offer every day. What happens in church next Sunday is going to depend, in large part, on how each one of us have practiced our discipleship Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“Make me an INSTRUMENT,” St. Francis prayed, “of your peace…” If I want to be such an instrument – of peace, grace, hope, love, encouragement, and blessing – then I also understand that I’m going to require regular tuning, cleansing, time and practice.

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