Tonight (Wednesday, July 21) at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Park in Worthington, the Amazing Worthington City Band will conclude its 128th season with a concert that has a few new wrinkles. The band is playing a few new selections that they have never played in public before. I should know – I’ve been fortunate enough to play in the trombone section for the past nine years.
It’s been a very satisfying time, playing in the City Band. It’s something I’ve been a part of ever since I was in high school. Growing up in Coleraine, Minnesota, I was a part of three city bands (Coleraine, Bovey and Marble). Playing in those locations was a memorable experience, just like playing in the Amazing Worthington City Band. I’ve been blessed to be a part of some fabulous music. Do yourself a favor and join the band tonight – you won’t be disappointed.
I guess music has always been an important part of my life. My parents were very involved with music. My mom was the choir director at my home church (she made sure I was singing in the choir when I got old enough – I think it was designed to keep an eye on me… I must have been a handful). She sang in the Mississippi Melodie Showboat production every year, not to mention other venues like community choruses and solos for life events like weddings and funerals. My father taught himself how to play the guitar and played for many years with a group called the Northwoods Opry. My dad was an amazing person who learned how to play the harmonica while playing the guitar, taught himself how to play the dulcimer, and wrote songs that my mom and he recorded. Yeah, music has been a huge part of my life.
There’s a hymn that I absolutely love that speaks about the “music of the spheres” [from “This Is My Father’s World”]. The music from our spheres of influence that surround us can make an indelible impact upon how our day is going. How often have we needed to hear that one song that lifted our spirits? How many times has a tune or a refrain been rambling around in our minds and we can’t get it out of there, only to discover that it speaks a message to us? Has this ever been your experience – you are sitting in the sanctuary waiting for the service to begin and the organist is playing something that soothes your soul, if only for a moment? Music can have a powerful effect on us.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians sets the stage for the power of music in our lives. He writes: “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19b). Music, whether it’s singing or playing an instrument or listening to a recorded song, provides a remarkable connection between the spirit of believers with the Lord and each other. Songs of worship and praise can well up in the soul in times of joy and yes, in times of sorrow. And here’s one more thing to consider – if we believe that God is the creator of all, then we must also consider that all music has its roots in the Divine order.
True, not all music will give praise and glory to God. Yet, there is a sense that music can provide a peace and joy that can only come from a melody or harmony. Cell phone ringtones are fabulous places to be reminded of the celebration of music. One of my favorite ringtones is “Linus and Lucy,” the famous theme song of the Peanuts gang. It just sends a sense of the joy of youth and being a kid again. Another one of my ringtones is “Jump” from the 80’s rock group Van Halen – only because I love the harmonious beginning of the song. Yet another ringtone for my phone is the song “How Far Is Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys. It’s a great song with a snappy beat which also provides a great message for anyone who is seeking the assurance of God’s kingdom in heaven (and earth).
Don’t get me wrong – I have a lot of favorites which are considered sacred music. “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Blessed Assurance” and “Jesus Loves Me” are just a few of the many songs that I treasure. The message from these time-honored songs of praise is always meaningful, and I cherish each moment being able to listen to them. One of my most favorite songs is a trombone solo I play entitled “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” This version has a blues feel to it, but instead of bringing you down, I believe it lifts you up. I also have played drums for praise band and there are many praise songs that I really like. “Lifesong,” “Remind Me Who I Am,” “Every Move I Make” and “Better Is One Day” are just a few of that particular genre that I love to listen to.
Perhaps you’ll hear a song at the concert tonight that speaks a message of hope to you. Join us as we celebrate the God-given gift of music!
Daren Flinck is pastor at Worthington's First United Methodist Church and Adrian United Methodist Church.