Friday, April 1, 2011

Lenten discipline

Over the past four years I've had my somewhat dormant passion for big-band jazz revived by playing in one, and from the start our director has encouraged us to bring in charts that we write ourselves, with nearly half the band doing so. Two years ago I decided to step up to the plate myself, so, inspired by a sermon I heard in church, I ordered a copy of the music notation computer program Finale. I just finished my fourth chart, and some of the other guys seem to think I have real talent as an arranger.

However, in January I joined a Christian Leadership Concepts men's small group through my church, and earlier this week I found myself trying to finish that chart rather than studying the material the way I should have been. At that point I realized that my priorities were getting out of whack.

So, I'm doing something I've never done before: Giving up something -- in this case, Finale -- for Lent. (That is, after I tape the parts together.)

Because I grew up in a conservative Presbyterian denomination, I never paid all that much attention to the season, even in other churches I've attended where it was part of the liturgical calendar. But I've now come to appreciate the discipline.

It's really a time of fasting -- indeed, our bass trombonist, who is Russian Orthodox, is doing that now -- but not necessarily from food and not for its own sake. Really, it's an attempt to put away things temporarily that might be very good in favor of focusing upon God for a time. I've long heard about folks giving up sweets; I know of two women who abstained from going on Facebook. In my case, even though utilizing my musical talent is good, doing so can interfere with spiritual goals (and has done so).

So I've pledged not to begin any more arrangements until May. God willing, the program will still be there and I'll be able to write to my heart's content. But first, I must learn to be content in Him.

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