When all else fails, give thanks!
Church musicians of the world, unite with thanksgiving! In our troubled world, which never seems to settle down, in our often frustrating church culture, which never seems to settle up, be thankful!
With every passing year, I find it easier to be grateful—but it took work and, mostly, getting over my bad self! Here is this year’s short list for your inspection and, well…sure, possible adoption:
I’m thankful for the deep responsibility and joy of being a friend, having a family, and being part of a flawed world
I wish none of these things were so complicated, but they all are, every one of them.
My friends let me down sometimes, and, I suspect, I let them down most of the time. When any of us get it right, though, it feels sublime, like a glass of cold water on a hot day, or a cup of tea on a cold one. Perfect…
My daughter Julie died too young, my daughter Annelise works through the ramifications of Aspergers. My stepdad Wes waits, because it’s all he has left to do. My wife Margie has to endure my rantings, ravings, and restlessness. My son Steven is waiting for his father to grow up, and his father is returning the favor. Our grandchildren wave as they move at a too-rapid pace toward wherever they’re going. The good news is of course, we endure!
The world moves with a predictable pendulum-like swinging—celebrating one day, grieving the next. There is joy and pain mixed at such a velocity even newscasters can’t keep up with it. Morning network shows try to “lighten it up” while making an effort to sound grim, concerned, and appropriately moved by the creeping certitudes of the day. Still, waking up in the world fills me with delight each moment I live. As they say, “It beats the alternative!”
I’m thankful for learning
My pastor for 17 delightful years was Walt Gerber, one of the great leaders of the church you’ve never heard of, read of, or attended a conference to hear, (refreshing isn’t it to realize that some pastors are just pastors!) taught me well something I should have already figured out in my 40s.
He said to me on my first day of work, “Doug, you’re no good to me or to this congregation if you aren’t teachable.” On his last day at the church he said, “Stay teachable, Doug!”
Some of us get to both teach and learn on a regular basis. How overwhelmingly revitalizing is that! My deepest thanks to all those who instilled the desire to do both, because it sustains me.
I’m thankful for music
I hope that doesn’t seem too obvious, but it needs to be at the forefront of my thinking every day. Were it not for music I might never have had such goose-bumpy moments of unfathomable joy. Music isn’t like other things—the soul rides on its surface and leaps at its bidding.
Like you, I suspect, I owe almost every good thing in my life to the connective tissue of listening to, participating in, and creating music.
I’m thankful for my life in ministry
Even with all the foolish, inexplicable stuff that often accompanies the life of a professional, Christ-following church minion, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I still get excited just walking from the parking lot to my office/library/rehearsal room corner of the 155 year old church where I now hang my robe and surplice.
We all mean to be content in our servant-fisherman role within the church, but as my uncle used to say, “Sometimes there just ain’t no fish!” It’s not just tough, it’s sometimes debilitating.
But today, ask yourself, “Would I have it any other way?” The answer is, “Probably not.” God stuck you in this role to get you unstuck from your selfishness, pride, and wantonness. God is smarter than you, me. Be grateful!
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