The Orchestra of Christ
There was no audience in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein. But this year's New Year's Day concert, broadcast live from Vienna, was one of the best, if not the best, I have ever heard. The Vienna Philharmonic (who had been tested daily for Covid to enable them to perform) played with a glorious mixture of joy and (yes) compassion. Cleverly, at the end of each half, applause from some of the 60 million people listening world-wide was streamed into the hall so that the orchestra could hear.
During the concert, Riccardo Muti made a moving speech. The Maestro spoke of music's 'mission', of its benefits for humanity, not least for, as he put it, the health of the mind. I couldn't agree more.
As I watched the wonderful way in which the players of the Vienna Phil responded to Maestro Muti, I recalled something that I read many years ago:
You and I are instrumentalists in the orchestra of Christ playing the work of God. This is a way to understand prayer. It may sometimes be solo and almost as lonely as Gethsemane . . . but prayer is also our part in the divine symphony of the universe. And we – even we, such blundering participants – shall deprive the whole if we are missing, or fail to tune our instrument at Christ’s door.¹
Christ calls us to share in his music: to collect our instrument, and tune it at his door. The whole ‘event’ of Christ, this unique opus, is one in which we are called to participate, to play. A song of salvation, which is incomplete until we add own unique harmonies to a performance which is repeated in Eucharist, in prayer, and in mission, week after week, day after day.
The New Year's Day concert is an annual ritual in our home. Even though we can't be there in person, we delight in knowing that we are sharing with millions in something special. I hope that those of you who participate in our worship from home feel part of something special too. And more than that - that each of us, whoever we are, however we live, will find ways in this new year to practice, and to perform, our faith in Christ.
¹ The Reverend Dr Gordon Wakefield (1921-2000) preaching in Lichfield Cathedral in July 1990