Monday, August 17, 2009

Missing the Music

In a Washington Post article titled "Pearls Before Breakfast," writer Gene Weingarten relays a social experiment that took place in the Washington, D.C. Metro. Internationally acclaimed virtuoso Joshua Bell played his $3.5-million Stradivari for 43 minutes. How many of the people rushing by would stop to listen? Would they recognize the world-famous musician or even notice the glorious music? Would they throw a dollar or even some change into Bell's violin case?

Weingarten writes, "Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?"

Of the 1,097 people who passed by only seven people stopped momentarily to listen and only 27 gave money (totaling $32.17). Only one woman actually recognized Bell and acknowledged him after his performance. The entire experiment was recorded by hidden cameras, and the video is astounding - click here to watch. It makes me wonder how many times I have rushed by a "Joshua Bell" and failed to notice the glorious music in my busyness? Do I have time for beauty?

My pastor, Chad, showed this video yesterday morning at church. He spoke about how busy not only our lives have become, but also our churches. So much so that we often miss what it's all about: loving God (connect with God), loving others (connect with others), and the command to "go" (make a difference). Sometimes, oftentimes, in the hustle-and-bustle of Sunday mornings we miss Jesus and the beauty he offers, the grace he lavishes, the music he plays.

Do we rush past, missing him altogether? Too busy serving, socializing, or slipping in and out to notice him. Or do we stop and stand transfixed, like the one woman at the Metro? Like her, I desire to stand in awe by my good fortune. To come into the presence of Jesus and surrender everything else. To let the symphony he plays envelop me, inspire me, and change me. To stop rushing by and to start listening for the music.

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