Saturday, November 24, 2007

Don't Squander Your Gifts

I love music as much as anything in my life. While some folks think it would be a tragedy to lose your eyesight, I think I would go crazy if I lost my hearing. The fact that hearing loss runs in my father's family causes me fear from time to time.

I am a frustrated musician; while I am able to play a variety of musical instruments (piano/keyboard, organ, guitar, low brass instruments including the trombone), I was never accomplished at any of them. Moreover, I really wanted to be a vocalist. I had a good boy soprano voice, but that soon changed to a deep voice that is a bit nasal and harsh. I took lessons, but got frustrated. My range and my stamina are quite limited.

Worse, my standards are incredibly high. I can take headphones and listen to music and find the mistakes. I can also listen for hours upon end to good music and good voices. One of my favorite musical arrangements was during the 80's when Canadian singers united for "Tears Are Not Enough," a famine-relief song co-written by Bryan Adams, David Foster, and Jim Vallance (the best in their day) that brought some of the greatest and unique voices in music together: Gordon Lightfoot (remember "Sundown" and "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"?), Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young (he actually sang on-key), Bryan Adams, Corey Hart, Bruce Cockburn, Mike Reno (lead singer of Loverboy). Geddy Lee (yes, of Rush) brings one verse home with his incredible voice. All of these folks I mention have unmistakable voices. I wanted a voice like that. (video here, history and better audio here)

God didn't give me that gift. However, he did give me gifts unique to me. While I won't be cutting a record (I guess burning a CD, now) anytime soon, I can lead a hymn. I can strum a guitar well enough that my daughter and I can sing together. If I practiced for a few weeks, I could probably work up an organ voluntary for church. Last year I played the tuba in a Christmas brass ensemble (maybe my swan song). Those are musical gifts. I'm a fair preacher, a good pastor, and a capable administrator. I'm not the highest rated basketball official around these parts, but I enjoy it and so far no one's told me to hang it up.

When it comes to the Church - I fear that we squander our gifts. Bishops and district superintendents whose hearts are in the local church instead of administration. Parish pastors and priests whose gifts would be better suited in hospitals and institutions. Laity who instead of being put on a church committee would rather serve in the background building Habitat for Humanity houses or other hands-on work. Youth who can read scripture and witness. Older adults who are gifted with working with teenagers. And the list goes on.

Sometimes, we are "elevated" to posts we really don't have the gifts for. And sometimes, we spend time wishing we had the gifts others have when in fact God created us uniquely to fit in harmony with the world, instead of at variance.

I would have loved being the lead singer for Rush. For all I know, Geddy Lee might have wanted to have been a rabbi. But I suspect that God knows what He is doing. My mother wasn't supposed to be able to have children; against the odds, she did. Geddy Lee's parents were both Polish Jews who, against odds, survived the Dachau and Bergen-Belsen concentrations camps. For some reason, the odds were defied so that I might be a clergyman and Geddy might be a singer. And we are, as the Psalmist said, "Fearfully and wonderfully made."

Rock on, Geddy. Thank you, God, for both of us - and our gifts.



Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your post! (You kinda have a gift for it...)

Remember way back when everyone believed that Rush (and their inverted star) was the music of the devil?

Anonymous said...

Everybody has some sort of talent. Not everyone is gonna admit it.
That's what you said in one of your sermons, I recall.
Taylor Kerr