For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

[1 Corinthians 12:12]

The Canton Symphony String Quartet performs at Deer Creek Reservoir near Alliance, Ohio, on July 22, 2021

For the last couple weeks, my wife and I have been enjoying outdoor concerts performed by sections of the Canton Symphony Orchestra. A week ago, it was a string quartet. Last night it was a woodwind quintet.

We are somewhat latecomers to these weekly offerings, held at different venues throughout the Stark County Park System on Thursday evenings in July and August.

These affairs are short – one hour in length. The music is much more contemporary than the usual fare one hears at an orchestra concert. The audience is given permission to hum along and let loose however they feel so moved.

And, best of all, the event is free!

Who says I don’t know how to show my wife a good time?

The performances accomplish several purposes.

They get people out of the house and into the fresh air. And after months of being cooped up, who can argue with that?

They allow the orchestra to do what they do best – play their instruments and apply their craft.

There’s also the possibility that they may attract a new audience – people who may not be all that familiar with the Canton Symphony, or any large orchestra for that matter, because of a misperception that the music was boring, or the cost to attend was beyond their price point.

It is a great marketing concept, and an excellent collaborative effort between the orchestra and the park system, to welcome back some and introduce others to these two outstanding organizations, not to mention a wonderful way to ease people back into that sense of normalcy that we’ve all yearned for since March of 2020.

Yet, as I sat and listened to these talented musicians, I still felt a sense of incompleteness.

A string quartet is not a full-blown orchestra. I craved to hear trumpets blaring, cymbals clashing, and all the other instruments alongside the velvety sound of the violin, however pleasing it may be.

I was reminded of the apostle Paul’s words to the Christians at Corinth, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?”
[1 Corinthians 12:17]

He goes on later to say, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” [v. 21]

It’s a thought that, quite frankly, has gnawed at me for a while – even before this pandemic began.

Our lives are one endless string of anxieties.

We are tired of waiting for the pandemic to end, or at least subside to the point where we can throw caution to the wind.

We are worried about how much gas prices will sky-rocket this summer or how soon we’ll feel the pinch of new taxes.

We are so fragmented as a society that the cracks of our differences have become craters of conflict.

Though I began this post with Corinthians in mind, I’m drawn also to the passage from Ephesians that some of us will hear this Sunday.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. [Ephesians 4:4-6]

And that hope to which we are called is what God has blessed us with as a way to withstand the world’s challenges. Hope is our weapon against those anxieties and differences.

The Church is where I find a sense of that hope.

The church is the body of Christ, called to do the work of Christ in the world.

And believe me, the church has plenty to do: to announce the gospel, the good news, to work for justice, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. We are called to look for and act on opportunities to do God’s work in the world.

And though some may not find church their cup of tea, the other great gift is that we have one another. The easiest way for people to lose hope is to withdraw, to isolate ourselves from others, to crawl into a shell.

Just as a string quartet is only a snippet of what we hear with an entire assortment of instruments, we as human beings bear a consciousness of something beyond the immediate. But we need to be with one another – imperfect as we may be – to pull that out of ourselves, to encourage each other.

That hope is best nourished in a community of faith and with each other. Hope is the music that soothes even more than a symphony, because having hope puts everything we face in life into a proper, more harmonious perspective.

Faith in God, and fellowship with Christ, is transformative. A melody that changes us, a tune that enables us to outlast the challenges of this present world.

Published by pastorallende

Retired Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Social justice and immigration reform advocate. Micah 6:8. Fluent in English and Spanish. I enjoy music and sports.

4 thoughts on “WE NEED EACH OTHER

  1. There is GOoDness in togetherness. I can’t wait until we can all really get together as we are accustomed to in our church. This pandemic has caused a sense of separation beyond the six feet kind. I can’t wait to get back to getting involved with the community–especially the youth. I do worry more that our church is more separated than ever. I pray that I can continue to do God’s work.


  2. Yes, we need each other. Beyond the pandemic, beyond the CRT, beyond anything the world throws at us, we need Jesus!


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