Twice a year, students in the symphony orchestra at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester spend a dedicated week preparing for a major public concert, under the direction of a guest conductor brought in specially. On one of these occasions, the teenagers had been working intensively with an American conductor, and he’d achieved extraordinary things with them.
Before the final piece was played, the conductor said a few words about the work they’d done together. He mentioned that, at one point during rehearsals, a little girl from the back of the violin section had slipped him a note. In this message she thanked him for what he’d done with them, and shared with him an important thing she’d learnt. It was not the case, she now realised, that being tucked away at the back meant she was unimportant. On the contrary, she had a real understanding now of how important everyone in the orchestra is. Everyone, wherever they are on the platform, plays their part and needs everyone else to be able to achieve their goal together.
The same thing is true, of course, for us as a church. No one person is more important than any other (wherever they may sit ‘on the platform’!) Filling the font for a baptism service and filling the coffee-cups after a service are both critical! Children are as valuable as adults. Those who can come to church are no more important than those housebound members who can no longer get out. As St Paul wrote, Christians are like many parts making up one body, and each needs the others to function.
That holds true for the Church at every level – all the different churches in our town and in our world. We function best when we remember that we belong to each other, that we are all parts of the one body – God’s Church here on earth. If we want to make the sweetest sounds, we need to be listening to each other, praying for each other, staying in tune and in rhythm with each other. And most important of all, needless to say, we must all keep our eye on the conductor. The conductor of the ‘Christian Symphony Orchestra’ is Jesus Christ He is the one who knows the music inside out (who knows the score!) and who alone has the ability to take us all through to a glorious climax.