When I was younger, for many years I helped lead the music for our parish liturgies. The “more grand” liturgies stand out to me: First Communion, Confirmation, Christmas, etc. It was at one of those First Communion Masses where I learned an important lesson.
As musicians at liturgy, you really play a key role in providing a sense of movement to the entire experience. Between moments of spoken prayer and petition, you provide a way for all assembled to pray with song. Sometimes, you make decisions at the moment for the sake of keeping the liturgy “moving.”
When it was time for Communion, we played throughout the entire time, and I did not allow a time for us as musicians to receive ourselves. I had hoped that this would be noticed and after our playing had concluded, someone would offer us the Eucharist. They didn’t. At first I thought, “Unfortunately, that’s just the way it goes.” One of our musicians did not see it that way and was upset. He said to me, “What am I here for anyway?”
My assumption without thinking much about it that day was that our presence was to lead music. However, I had missed it. Even though we played an important role at the liturgy, the reason we were there was Jesus. No matter how beautiful our music could be or how well the congregation sang, our primary purpose of being there was just like everyone else’s: Jesus.
Our stewardship is very important, but at no time does it become the main thing. Our generosity and commitment of ourselves points to that which matters the most. When we lose sight of why we are doing something and whom we are doing it for, our actions can become hollow. The music of our efforts offers praise to the One who makes that melody even possible in the first place.