Last night I went with two friends to a performance of St. John’s Passion, by the Bach Festival Singers. The concert hall was the showroom of a tractor and implement dealership. (What can I say, we live in farm country?) The radio personality who introduced the choir and the conductor made jokes about the “acoustics”, but in reality the sound was wonderful. The whole evening was a delight.
One of my friends commented on how impressed she was by the story of Bach, how he worked to produce new music for each Sunday worship service and then worked on the music and words for this Passion for Good Friday at the same time. What struck me was how well Bach had to know Scripture to be able to write amazing lyrics (most of them were sung in English and the translation worked very well)…but also he had to have known the story of Christ’s Passion so well in order to be able to set the story to such heart felt and moving music. It was a perfect evening. The extended standing ovation given to the conductor, the orchestra, the soloists and the choir were well deserved.
The choir especially impressed me. These were people who sang together simply for the love of singing. And you could see in some of them that the evening’s performance took its toll. One woman never left the stage during intermission, she simply sat there exhausted and mopped her brow. There was one older gentleman who simply stopped standing to sing during the second half. You could see looking at him that he was exhausted.
It made me ponder what we give in the service we render to God. Bach poured out his heart and soul into the music he composed week after week. The choir poured out all of their energy over the course of that evening. And the coming together of those two things gave those of us who attended an inspirational evening.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12: 15, “So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?” He was willing to give everything he had for the sake of a congregation who often disappointed him and angered him. Service to God does not count the cost, but pours everything out. To spend and to be spent is how we are called to live in our service to God. Jesus poured out his all, including his life for us and for our salvation. How can our calling be anything less?
That makes me ponder what is being asked of me in the next while. As I have moved into my new living situation and settled into a new routine, I know that the attention I have given to my life of service has lessened. I read less. I pray less. I blog less.
It is time for me to start putting God first. It is time for me to start giving God the best of my energy in all that I do—worship preparation, scriptural study time, prayer and service. So today my prayer is: TO SPEND AND TO BE SPENT.
Thanks be given to you O Holy God, for your wonder fills the world.
Open my heart that I may hear you more dearlyand serve you more fully.
Shine your love into my heart.
Penetrate my being with the enthusiasm to give myself in service.
Enliven my heart.
Nudge me forth from a safe place to a place of risky service.
Direct me into your will and your way.
Adjust my heart.
Nurture my will.
Declare to me the pathway to be followed.
Thus let me become all that I am called to be.
Only yours, and yours alone.
Before the world show forth my heart.
Eternally call forth from me a heart of delight and service.
So may I love you and worship you.
Praying and loving and serving, world without end.
Entering your courts with prise and thanksgiving.
Now and always knelling in devotion.
Til your kingdom is fulfilled. Amen.