Saturday, January 1, 2011

Service, music, and another year

Saint Cecilia

Well, 2010 is done, and my blogging stopped in July. It was a very busy year I guess, with a lot more church work and essays and stuff, random thoughts posted online shrunk into nothing over the past 12 months.

The other consequence of the busyness was a lack of music composition. 2010 is the first year since 2004 that I didn't "release" an album or a major work. My intention was to finish a piece that I began in May in the last week of the year, but the process of living meant that Ascension sits incomplete in my hard drive.

This has led to a serious consideration: up until this time I have regarded myself as a composer or a musician. The last break I took was in 2003 when my daughter was born and time and energy to compose was scarce. The reason for a "break" in 2010 was also to do with time, but rather than parenthood it was theological study and ministry that caused the music to stop.

Since becoming a Christian, I have regarded my music as part of my ministry. For good or no, it was part of my service. In 2010 several of my pieces were used in worship and meditation services, often (to my surprise) to great effect. This was an affirmation of part of my ministry, but also a realisation that the pieces may be of limited appeal!

Anyway, I have to consider where my music and how much time I devote to it will fit into my life as of now. I am not ready to give up composing, yet I know that time is only going to become scarcer.

I know I was called into the service of the Lord, and my understanding of that has been as a priest. However, if that means giving up music, is that really serving as best I can?

Now there are varieties of gifts,
but the same Spirit;
and there are varieties of services,
but the same Lord;
and there are varieties of activities,
but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7

This all may sound rather precious and ego driven, but I assure you it is not so. My love of music, my own music, and my thoughts on contemporary church music are at an important juncture. I think most hymns are lacking in mystery and spiritual depth. I struggle to feel connected with God or able to worship to most of the musical drivel in church. The indwelling of Christ becomes a very distant glow that is rather a memory than a moment of oneness when singing most hymns. However at a contemplative service late last year, Christ was present for those present, and it was very humbling that one of my pieces was part of that experience.

The music that I have composed since my conversion has all been with such an experience in mind. To know that in 2010 I let myself down in the creation of a new piece to be a part of that ongoing work is a bit painful.

But, at the end of the day, it is whether the piece will exist or not that is the issue. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says:

Do not say,
‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this
Ecclesiastes 7:10


ozark ken said...

Yet another thought provoking entry, thank you! My take is God most often uses us with the giftings He has already given to us, He does not ask us to be what we are not, but at times He does ask us to step beyond the familiar and trust Him to do what we cannot do through us, that sounds like a paradox to do but not do, this is part of the walk of faith. The problem with most of us is not having to choose between various giftings and which we should pursue at the time, but recognizing and letting those giftings find footing in a practical way to bring God's blessings to others. You are attempting to let God use you in a variety of mediums, I feel He is smiling and joying over you.

Jundy Bautista said...

Nice post! :-)