BOELZNER stewardship talk (given on Sunday, December 4, 2016)
Chuck asked me to speak as one who contributes talent – in my case, music: playing, singing, composing – to the service of the church. (I really suspect he thought a lawyer would be sufficiently in love with the sound of his own voice to be willing to talk about most anything.) But taking Chuck at his word…I’ll offer three observations.
First, the old saying is true: it is more blessed to give than to receive. In the case of the music I write, this is literally true. Composers compose mostly because they have an itch to compose, but the dream of every composer is to hear his work performed. All the labor just sits on a page unless someone performs it. If the listeners seem to enjoy it or find it moving, that is even more gratifying. The willingness of this choir to work on learning my stuff over the years has truly been a gift. I’ve gained more than I’ve given.
So if you have a knack for something, whatever it is – working with children, gardening, whatever – contribute it to the church. You’ll gain great satisfaction.
Second, I recall Bobby Swineford saying in his sermon a couple of Sundays ago that God reckons value by what you make of your gifts. As Edison said about inventing, so with composing: it’s 97% perspiration and 3% inspiration, but there is some component of natural aptitude involved. When I compose music for the choir I try to make it of the best quality possible, giving each voice – soprano, alto, tenor, bass – something interesting to sing. That makes the music more complicated and often more difficult. The choir will attest, I’m sure, that my stuff is not the easiest stuff we sing. I might add that it is a joy to contribute music where the congregation and the rector are so appreciative of and concerned about the quality, including the aesthetic quality, of worship. We used to wear our “Sunday best” to church – not so true anymore, but it was the right idea: present your best in church.
So, whatever you bring here, try to make it the best you have.
Lastly, I want to quote a line from a hymn – one of Ross’s favorites, I’m told: “Sometimes a light surprises the Christian when he sings. It is the Lord who rises with healing in his wings.” Music, for me, is an avenue to a spiritual realm I don’t talk about very much. Law is a worldly profession and I’m not much for talking about things spiritual. But through music I do feel that I enter that realm from time to time. You know, composing, like any creative activity, lest you kind of play God on a small scale. You get to order that whole universe of sound just as you like. And that can be both thrilling and terrifying.
It may not be music for you, but something here in this church will likely be that avenue to the spiritual for you, and you’ll most likely find the path to it through service. So give to this place; it will repay you many times over.