I love to play the piano.
I am not a virtuoso, but I have played enough over the years, that I can relax and enjoy expressing myself through music. I’ve played hymns in churches most of my life, and always offer to do so when I move to someplace new.
And so it happened that I offered to play for the church that I am attending here, “up north”. and am collecting quite a collection of piano stories with a common theme. Embarrassment. It’s got me thinking. But, as always, what I let myself think is important. Humility and embarrassment are related, but not quite the same and that is where the importance starts.
This morning I arrived early enough for church that I could make sure the electronic instrument, a clavinova, was plugged in, turned on and sounded appropriate for the small early service. I only had to play for the communion portion of the service – one hymn. All was set. The service went well, the message was moving and the invitation was given for communion. To my surprise, when I started to play there was a pop drum beat and a very weird bass thing going on with my reverent, calm hymn.
I hunted for any button on the control board that had STOP written on it, and tried several times to make the hymn sound like a hymn, but no. What finally came out of the machine was barely recognizable and was probably more distracting than having no music at all. Stuff like this is a musician’s nightmare.
This particular service is early, 8 am, and has small attendance, so the music crew does not do a lot of practice for it. Other times when I’ve participated, I have played the wrong song at the right time, played the right song at the wrong time, and played when I was not supposed to play at all. I suppose the regular attendees are getting kind of used to me and my uncomfortable adventures.
I am filled with mixed emotions. Why do these things keep happening? It always takes a bit of courage to put myself in a place of service to others where what I do is noticeable if I do it poorly. I am aware that music sets the mood and can influence people. I desperately (yes, desperately!) want to not distract people from their worship, or make them uncomfortable because they are worried about me.
On the other hand, I realize that music is not what it’s all about. Worship is not about me at all and how I respond when things go poorly is what God is probably watching. What does my embarrassment lead to? What discouraging messages am I giving myself about my performance, my usefulness? Will I be intimidated and unwilling to serve again? Those would not be good choices. However, I have to consider that God might be telling me that my time playing for church is finished. Maybe I am to move on to something else, and it would be okay. It has to be okay. Kind of makes me look at my pride issues and wonder what God wants to teach me next. That is always a good thing.
This morning, the pastor asked me what I was going to write about next. I had no idea then, but God inspires in strange ways and look what happens. Just sayin’…