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Thoughts from a Musician's Heart


At the beginning of 2020, Australia’s native species were being devastated by wildfires and the initial coronavirus outbreak in China had just hit the news. At my orchestra’s first rehearsal for the season, the conductor joked, “we made it through 2019, but I’m not sure about 2020!” We did play our first series of concerts, but our orchestra’s last rehearsal for the year would be Tuesday, March 10. As the days trickled on, the country began to shut down. Our concert scheduled for the end of the month, featuring Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, was canceled by the end of the week. Little did we realize how risky that final rehearsal might have been; later that week in Washington State, the Skagit Valley Chorale would have a rehearsal where 52 of 61 participants fell ill. 2 of them would die.

The past four months have been a rough intermission for musicians, our churches, and the world. In the United States, we are now struggling in a new battle against the coronavirus and an centuries-long war of racism and prejudice that has been rekindled as acts of brutality have been brought to light. As Romans 8:22 (NIV) states, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” We ensnared by the sin of mankind, our sin. The country is grappling with its conscience and responsibility for our brothers and sisters who are Black, and Christians can’t seem to agree on the solutions, if they want to fix things at all. We are isolated from each other and unable to comfort each other in person. How can we save ourselves and our country? Is there any hope for the church, especially when its sin is on full display for the world to see?

I cannot overstate my frustrations with these things, and God has called me to play a particular role in loving His people who have endured centuries of trauma at the hands of those who call themselves Christians. But in the midst of all these things, our comfort is in the Gospel promise. That is,

In grace alone. We are not righteous by our own merit. Left to our own devices, we doom ourselves for eternity. No amount of activism can save me. Being on the right side of an issue, with logs still in my eyes (Luke 6:42), cannot save me.

In faith alone. Only by trust in Jesus can we hope for righteousness.

In Christ alone. Christ is the sole Mediator who justifies for a God who does not let sin go unpunished.

In scripture alone. Only the Bible is God’s true word, and provides access to truth for Christians. No doctrine of man – whether the US Constitution, capitalism, or Marxism, can possibly save our eternal souls.

To the glory of God alone. This was a popular slogan at MasterWorks, where everything is encouraged to be an act of worship to God’s glory - not out of creating a false sense of self righteousness or morality.

So what is my purpose in life, whether as a musician or at church? To glorify God. Even while church and concerts aren’t happening and the world rightly struggles to make sense of the coronavirus and racism, we remember we have a God who has always known about this and even now is working for our salvation.

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