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John Bressler - The music of God will fill the world
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John Bressler

John Bressler-112411

Listen to John Bressler read his column.

       Patrick Costello, probably one of the finest flailing banjo players in the world, has written a very well read and constantly used beginners book entitled, "The How and Tao of Old Time Banjo." He tells a story of a young man who was trying to learn on his own and was overheard practicing by an old man who stopped to listen for awhile. The old man walked over and asked, "Are you trying to play 'Cotton Eye Joe?' Well, if you are, try this." He then took the banjo and did some remarkable picking and then told the young boy, "Try to do it this way and when you can, come back and see me."
       Patrick writes that practice is necessary, but take it one step farther. "When you get the basics down, then play with others every time you have a chance. Don't wait until you're perfect to save any embarrassment. Simply play to participate and learn."
       It's a lot like attending church. I suppose we could always go to a worship service, figure we've heard all we need to hear, leave and never come back. Sure, we got an earful. We even purchased a Bible. As soon as we are ready, we'll share the Word with total strangers. Let's be totally honest with ourselves. We most likely believe we must be perfect in every way, have unquestionable knowledge about the so-called mysteries of the Bible and professional vocal delivery so we don't appear dumb. Nice try, but an unacceptable excuse.
       Every Sunday, our pastor unashamedly declares with us, "Our purpose is to glorify God and love others through worship, study and service." What does that mean? Well, for starters, we never miss a Sunday to meet with other Christian friends who, like us, glorify God as we worship together. "Hey, that's point one!" We study together as we attend Sunday School and listen to a sermon that explains the biblical verse just read and even applies it in such a way that we understand God's Message in new and exciting ways. "Hey, that's point two!" Before we know it, an hour or so is gone, a benediction is shared and we are sent out into the world as the people of God who just can't wait to express His love through faithful service. "Hey!"
       We are not like the new piano student or aspiring banjo picker who practices with bleeding fingers until the music is nearly perfect before giving a concert. We are forgiven sinners who must go into this world of economic woe, unsettling news, broken promises, disappointing realities and announce, "The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!"
       Now let me see if I can write this without getting into too much trouble. Most banjo players begin with a teacher, most likely a book of instruction and songs to learn written in tablature or a quick and easy way to get the basic tune and flailing/clawhammer technique. We are then told - once you get the basics - put the tablature aside and let it fly. Trust in what you know and have practiced and allow the music to flow. There is nothing worse than music without heart and soul. Of course, you will make some mistakes but trust your teacher, your ability and have faith that you can make music.
       Every pastor worth his or her salt, steps into the pulpit with fear, trembling and some notes to know where he is starting, where he is and when he is to stop. However, a pastor who has practiced, studied and believes in his calling trusts the Teacher and has faith in the Spirit to make the sermon powerful, meaningful, prays, "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord."
       And folks, the music of God will fill the world in such ways that it will take our breath away!"
       Let the music begin. We have prepared for this moment all of our lives. The world is waiting.


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