Wind Instruments

Phil Nagy is a musician’s musician. I’ve heard him play any number of stringed instruments, carry the beat on drums, and sing some pretty difficult tunes. He can also pick up the flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone, and tuba! Did I mention Phil includes “band director” in his repertoire?

Every horn Phil picks up produces its own sound, different from all the others. The trumpet excites with confident blasts of high-pitched energy, the flute softening their sharp edges with soothing sensibility, and from the oboe wends an alluring enchantment one can neither mimic nor ignore. Each brass brings its own purpose, and every woodwind leaves its own effect. Yet all of his instruments share this in common: none is capable of producing even the first note by itself; it is Phil’s exhale into each horn that frees it from its silence and releases from it the great purpose for which it was crafted. And at this one man’s breath, every implement shows itself distinct.

There was a time when I favored conformity, preferring people who dressed a certain way, spoke a certain way, and lived a certain way. I surrounded myself with a circle of sameness, be it a fraternity of French horns or a clique of clarinets. Over time, however, I’ve come to savor the unique among us—the lonely bassoon with his melancholy contemplations, the piccolo who flitters in unannounced, alights in sanguine cheer, then departs as quickly as she came, and the tuba, who goes about his duties in a workmanlike manner, largely unnoticed despite his conspicuous size. For the Director has selected each in its own beauty and united them all for His composition.

In preparation for this Pentecost Sunday, take some time to sense and to savor the body of Christ, for the Holy Spirit calls and gifts each believer for the common good, just as He determines. Enjoy those who carry the tune, of course, but listen also for the softer sounds of those who serve in the background, those who, under the mastery of the Maestro, turn a mere melody into a magnificent masterpiece.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. Romans 6:13.

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