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Monday over Coffee: Missing Nothing

Need Some Words of Encouragement?

Missing Nothing

What if you could see, 
Through the banner of the sun, 
Into eternity's eyes, 
Like a vision reaching down, 
Would you turn away?

What if it knew you by your name?
What kind of words would cut through the clutter 
Of the whirlwind of these days?

When Johann Sebastian Bach died in 1750, he wasn’t thought of as an especially brilliant composer. In fact, within a few years of his death, he and his music were largely forgotten. But in 1823, 73 years after his death, a German woman named Bella Salomon, presented a birthday gift to her 15-year-old grandson, Felix. The gift was a manuscript score of Bach's St. Matthew’s Passion which put to music the story of the death, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ. Although essentially unknown at that time, the music so captivated young Felix that he dreamed grandly of its performance.

It took Felix Mendelssohn the next five years of his young life to arrange, organize, and prepare the Passion to be performed at Berlin’s Singakademie on March 11, 1829. To say it was well-received would be an understatement. It led not only to a revival, but a complete re-evaluation of Bach's works first in Germany, then in Europe, until Bach’s significance was recognized not just as one of genius, but as virtually unparalleled. Even now some of our greatest musicians like the cellist, Yo Yo Ma, rightly ask — what power did Bach possess that, even after 300 years, his music continues to help us through troubled times?

I want to suggest an answer — an answer that may help us navigate, not just this challenging pandemic season, but any subsequent period of trial and difficulty ahead. For as the world rediscovered Bach, it also saw that before writing even a single note of a new composition, at the top of the first page, Bach would first write the letters ‘JJ’, which stood for Jesu Juva, Latin for “Jesus, help.” The music would then begin to pour from his soul until, at the end of each composition, he’d write at the bottom of the score, the letters ‘SDG.’ Latin, for Soli Deo Gloria — Glory to God Alone.

What if we prayed these two phrases or even wrote them down at the beginning and end of every day? What if we asked for Christ’s help every morning, then sanctified the day’s work every evening, as we close our eyes, to God’s glory? And what if, between these two moments of devotion, we asked God for the eyes, the ears, the heart, to see, to hear, and to feel what genius, what comfort, and what beauty we might be missing all around us? Like Bach’s music before Mendelssohn had rediscovered it, what richness might we be missing simply because we’re not paying close enough attention, not looking the right way, or have simply forgotten it?

God is all around us, broadcasting wisdom, solace, grace, and love in all the ways an invisible God can. Through open lines of prayer. Through the guidance of conscience. By tapping us on the shoulder with the close connections of family and friendship. With the revelation of all sorts of Scripture — stories, songs, poetry, history. God is in the sonic architecture of music, in the colors of the rolling sea, and the ripples of wispy clouds at dawn. In the contours of art. In the drama of film. In the lessons of literature. In the wholesome feeling we get when we cross the street and serve those in need. In the sacred. In the mundane. In the profane.

The Killers are a terrific rock band out of ‘Fabulous Las Vegas.’ Brandon Flowers, the group’s compelling lead singer, a Mormon, grew up in Utah before moving to Vegas and starting the group. His faith emerges with brilliant regularity in his music. He recently penned a song called, My Own Soul’s Warning, in which he asks us:

What if you could see, 
Through the banner of the sun, 
Into eternity's eyes, 
Like a vision reaching down, 
Would you turn away?

What if it knew you by your name?
What kind of words would cut through the clutter 
Of the whirlwind of these days?

Let’s take some deep breaths. Listen for God cutting through the whirlwind of these days. What is it that we might’ve forgotten, overlooked, or just plain missed? Don’t turn away. Eternity’s broadcasting.

God— 

Cut through the clutter so I may fully hear that Eternity knows my name. Help me wire myself into Your broadcast, becoming so connected that at day’s end, when I close my eyes, I may say the day was lived for Your Glory Alone. And that I missed nothing.
 
Amen.

—Greg Funderburk 


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