I’m no musician.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love music! But somehow my musical training and prowess stalled when I was first chair in the recorder in fourth grade. I can carry a tune okay, but I don’t enjoy singing in front of others – at least not on my own. But if you put me in a group, surrounded by the voices of the congregation, I sing loudly and I sound phenomenal! Something beautiful happens when I match the pitch of the person next to me. I hear and feel the power of the masses. I am encouraged to breathe deeply and give the tune everything I’ve got.
The power of singing in unison drowns out my vocal imperfections and highlights the notes I get right.
This is the power of community.
And that’s a beautiful thing. And the good news is that the power of community doesn’t stop with just singing ability – it extends to all areas of life. I am more compassionate at my job, a fiercer friend, and more motivated in ministry when encouraged by my community than I ever could be on my own. Others understand where you are and how hard it is to sing at times. They can give you strength to sing even when it’s hard.
Each person’s life has a song. If you think of your life as an opus, full of different movements at different times in life, our songs won’t always sound the same, but they can all be beautiful. It doesn’t matter if your current tune sounds like a playful ditty or a mournful dirge – both can be sung worshipfully. And both are more powerful with others singing alongside you. Each life is an opus which must be crafted in community and fellowship.
The movie Mr. Holland’s Opus gives a helpful picture to think about life as a grand piece of music. Mr. Holland, a high school music teacher, who dreamed of fame and fortune, is given a gift upon his retirement. Many of his students over the previous four decades return to play a composition for their beloved teacher and mentor. One of his students, Gertrude Lang, whom Mr. Holland helped decades previously to “play the sunset” honors her mentor with the following speech:
“Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life. “
We match each others’ tunes. We sing together. We live in community.
Jesus, help us to sing, no matter the tune, with all our might creating an opus of worship fit for the King!