Tuesday, September 13, 2016


September 13, 2016

Excellence always attracts. And amazes. I've been taking upright bass lessons since last January, first from a student at Fredonia State, then from their newest professor of bass, Kieran Hanlon, who joined five other professors for a recital last night. Their first selection was a magnificent jazz version of "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess that he arranged, followed by a bass solo that utterly amazed me, not only for its complexity, but also for the fact that he had the entire five minute piece memorized, as did the other performers on their solos.

Linda used to joke (at least I think it was a joke) that without notes I couldn't even hold a decent conversation. I know I never dared enter the pulpit without something in front of me. I've listened to great preachers. They are a delight to hear and watch. They know their material, have a sense of timing, know how to craft a sentence, build suspense, and draw the congregation along to the place where they are ready to make a commitment. I would never claim to be more than an average preacher, more like a hack than a master. But I appreciate excellence in preaching, as I appreciate excellence in any endeavor, whether it be mechanics, carpentry, engineering, sports, writing, etc. I particularly enjoy the excellence of my wife's culinary skills.

Just playing such difficult music is far beyond me; doing it from memory stretches my imagination. It was glorious, and demonstrated what is possible, even if not for me. That's what excellence does; it lifts us beyond the ordinary. I contend that excellence in any endeavor reveals something of the character of God, who does all things well. I am grateful for last night's recital which gave me a target that I'll never hit, but which at least I can see.

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