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One of my favorite sounds is falling rain. I love the staccato sound, water drops hitting puddles and pavement. As a child, I could sit for what seemed like an eternity at the windows of my grandmother’s house though it was probably no more than a few minutes. Her windows were covered by metal awnings, reaching out two or three feet. During heavy rain and storms the sound of giant drops of falling water slapping against the metal became a soothing noise. I could sleep for what seemed like forever while it rained. 

One thing I notice about rain is the sounds. Not sound, sounds. Each individual drop creates its own sound, its own addition to the orchestral composition. In its way, it creates jazz, a mad improvisational mixture of sounds seemingly chaotic but much more orderly than you might expect. Jazz relies on a steady beat, not always the same repetitive sound but steady, with other instruments playing various, inventive melodies over the top. These melodies are driven by the beat but often find their own cadence counter to by complementary to the beat. The melodies also fall into the background and become rhythm, the backing tracks so others can solo over the top. Rain has this steady current but within it, you can hear individual raindrops as they hit off beat and in their own time. The raindrops solo and then fall into the background, becoming puddles for other drops to land in. 

Church is like rain and jazz, there is a steady undercurrent of basic ideas with the ability to find inventive ways to express those thoughts. The undercurrent never changes—concepts like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and the like. But how they are expressed, how we show these to those around us, is different nearly every time we show these traits of the Spirit to others. Just as a saxophone solo doesn’t sound the same as a guitar solo or a piano solo, our solos within the service to the church are unique. And some more so than others. I have seen ministries built around food, running, and camping, and in places like dining rooms, bars, and public parks but all of them have the undercurrent of those fruits of the Spirit. 

I have also seen people who refuse to let others play. They like their sound and their sound only. If you play their song fine. If you play anything else, they interrupt the song until they can get everyone to play their tune. The idea of being rhythm for someone else is not only foreign to them but incomprehensible. Everyone plays their tune, or no one plays anything. This isn’t a symphony of grace, it’s a spiritual hostage situation, the kind that commonly destroys churches. 

What’s your contribution to God’s symphony called the church? How do you play not only your solo but play rhythm for others to solo in their own time?